Renewed Warning: IRS Tax Scam Alert and What To Do To Protect Yourself: Scary and Disturbing Tactics By Phony IRS Agents

NIgerianPhoneScam

“These scams are better scripted than some Hollywood movies.”
419 Nigerian Scam Victim

The IRS just renewed its October, 2013 warning about a pervasive phone scam that continues to target people across the nation, including recent immigrants. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration called it the largest scam of its kind. As of March 20, this tax division reported that it has received reports of over 20,000 contacts related to this scam. It also stated that thousands of victims have paid over $1 million to fraudsters claiming to be from the IRS.

As some of you may recall, on Halloween the IRS announced (IR-2013-84) the newest and scariest phone scam.  Someone has a sick sense of humor out there.

This sophisticated and sinister phone scam targets taxpayers,  especially recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Details of This Phone Scam According to the IRS

In this scam, the thief poses as the IRS and makes an unsolicited call to their target. The caller tells the victim they owe taxes to the IRS. They demand that the victim pay the money immediately with a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.  As I said, this is really scary stuff.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country.  We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves.  Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. My advice: If you get such a call, hang up immediately!

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”  Be aware that the IRS does not contract taxpayers in this fashion.  In almost all cases, the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue occurs by mail.

Other characteristics of this scam that may lead you to believe that this is a legitimate phone call and to intimidate you into giving them what they want  include the following:

  • These impostors use fake names and IRS badge numbers.
  • They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • These con artists may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • These crooks spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it seem that it’s the IRS calling.
  • They sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, these charlatans hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

As you can see, these guys are good.  Do not under any circumstances give them any information or pay them a thing no matter how threatened you may feel!

How To Protect Yourself

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, hang up immediately and call your tax attorney, your accountant or the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.  This way you know for sure you are dealing with the IRS.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), once again, immediately hang up and then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Other Scams

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS. The 419 Nigerian scam depicted in the picture above resulted in losses to many victims in that country.  No matter how believable or how much you are intimidated, never let your guard down and stay skeptical and vigilant.

Know How The IRS Operates

  • The IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. In this case, “snail” mail is a good thing.
  • They do not use any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
  • The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
  • The IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
  • Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in any message that seems to be from the IRS. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

 

Bottom Line:

  • Be wary of any unexpected phone or email communication allegedly from the IRS.
  • Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams that use the IRS as a lure.
  • Thieves often pose as the IRS using a bogus refund or warnings to pay past-due taxes.
  • If someone calls you about taxes, they will tell you whether it is the IRS or some state or local authority.  Get their name and badge number and do not give them any information or money.  Then hang up and call that taxing authority directly to get to the bottom of the situation.

Has anyone been a victim of this scam or other scams or fraud?  Please share your experiences in the Leave A Reply area below.

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As required by United States Treasury Regulations, you should be aware that this communication is not intended by the sender to be used, and it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under United States federal tax laws.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm’s full disclaimer.

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19 responses to “Renewed Warning: IRS Tax Scam Alert and What To Do To Protect Yourself: Scary and Disturbing Tactics By Phony IRS Agents

  1. Scott Esterson

    I just received a fraudulent call from a “Dexter Cruse” at 202-506-8051. The man could barely pronounce my name and was saying I owed much money on my taxes. Unless you get something in writing from the IRS,do not respond.
    The supposed supervisor came on who sounded he barely made it through 5th grade and had a heavy New York accent (Apologies to all the good people of that region.) and told me I must respond immediately. I asked what my address was they sent it to and would not give them my information.
    Other than a phone number, they had no info on me. Do not give any personal information to these guys.

  2. I just got a phone call right now from 7162427160, he sounded like he had a Indian accent and made threats to have my lawyer to call. I just hung up.

  3. Richard Stone, Esq.

    As a former Treasury and IRS attorney I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Fromm in this regard – the IRS will never initiate an audit, examination or the like via the telephone – the Service always initiates contact with taxpayers via a form letter – that form letter will contain the name of a contact person and the contact person’s contact information – if you get a telephone call allegedly from the IRS, either hang up or leave the phone on the counter for a while and then hang up…. some people were blowing air horns on the phone to annoy the scam artists – do NOT do that, these scam artists will think nothing of suing you for real or imagined injuries….

  4. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog!

    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new
    initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us
    valuable information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  5. gregtaxes.WordPress

    Greg. An hour ago. I got the call. I was told. If I did not. Pay 500. Now he would send the police to arrest me. I asked if he took debt card. He said no. I said what about western union he said no. He said he would hold on on the phone until I drove to right aid and bought a prepaid debt card green dot was the name. Then the bulb light over my head. He was going to hold on until I got dressed and drove to right aid. Yes right. I said call my laywer. He then became angry and said I need to get a tax lawyer not a criminal lawyer. I hung up. Then I got a phone call. From someone asking me if I were home. Because he was coming to arrest me. Do I have any questions. I f I pay then he won’t come and arrest me. The number they used was. 5672444092. Beware.

    • Wow, Greg. Thanks for taking the time to write about this scary and upsetting experience. Way to go in handling this and not being duped and intimidated! Very nice of you to post your experience here and hope you stop by again and leave your email address for updates in the area on the top of the right hand column of this blog.

  6. Pingback: IRS Tax Scam Alert and What To Do To Protect Yo...

  7. Steven you are always there to help. Anyone needing legal help out there, this guy gets (5) stars from me! Thanks again, Steve.

  8. My son was the victim of one of these fraudulent IRS calls. A man calling himself Ryan Gibson (very obviously Indian (Hindu) called and told him that he owed the IRS $9,000 and that he had to pay $500 immediately or a warrant would be issued for his arrest. He unfortunately lost $200 to this scam artist. The man assured him that he would be arrested and my son was very upset and his 7 year-old son who is with him this weekend was terrified that his daddy was going to go to jail. I know that this person will not likely be caught as he’ll have a different name and phone number next time, but just in case, he said his name was Ryan Gibson and he was calling from New York, Phone # 347-671-0326. I hope this will help someone else from becoming a victim.

    • Kathy, I am so sorry to hear about your son’s misfortune. I am glad that you are sharing his story as it will probably help others and let them know that this is happening and it is for real. Thanks so much for your helpful post. Let your son know I am posting this and perhaps it might be valuable to others.

  9. zafnat777@msn.com

    Hello Steven and thanks for the information and the insights and I am so glad I spoke with you about this. As I mentioned, I received a phone call on Friday from one of these scammers. That was really upsetting so I was so glad I spoke to you. For your readers his phone number is 202-808-3661, so if they get such a call they should be very careful.

  10. I am receiving calls (one yesterday) (one today) from a company purporting to be conducting a survey on what people think about the IRS. I have absolutely no intention of participating in such a survey and it does seem somewhat suspicious.
    I wish I could remember the name of the company ‘supposedly’ conducting this survey. Have you heard anything about this?

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