Of course you remember Paul Revere and his midnight ride in 1775 that warned neighboring citizens of impending danger from a ‘foreign’ entity (otherwise known as Great Britain) that wished to control our rights. On October 6, 2016, a new ‘guardian’ stepped forward.
Under the cloak of darkness, more than 200 police officers flooded a high-rise office building. There they arrested 70 people on the spot with investigations for over 770 employees from the nine call centers operating at that location. This deceptive, high-tech operation was scamming over $150,000 a day from innocent Americans. Thankfully, due to violations of India’s Internet safety law, the Indian government was able to step in to protect us from scam.
These employees were able to convince unsuspecting Americans that they had serious tax issues with the IRS, such as unreported income, additional taxes owed, default on payment plans, etc. The callers would pressure people to pay an amount immediately to avoid other action: police officers arresting you in two hours, liens filed against your financial accounts, judgments being filed today at the courthouse if one did not comply.
Things you can do if you receive an IRS scam call
- If you think you might owe Federal taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
- If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on the Treasury Inspector General’s website, https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/ or call 800-366-4484.
- You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, https://www.ftc.gov/.
Other IRS phone scams
IRS phone scams aren’t the only phone scams being perpetrated upon individuals like you and me. Perhaps you’ve been contacted by phone by someone wanting to fix your computer that has been infected by a virus or by malware that will damage your computer. You only need to provide them credit card information and access to your computer to solve your problem immediately. This, of course, allows the scammer to infect your computer and to obtain private information.
Or perhaps you’ve been contacted by ‘Publishers Clearinghouse’ because of a prize that you have won. Or someone calls on behalf of a grandchild who has been arrested and needs bail money. Another scenario: maybe you went on-line to purchase a gift for someone special and found a site with deep discounts for the desired product, only to find that the site was a fraudulent e-commerce site that made multiple expensive purchases using your card number, ultimately stealing not only money but sometimes your whole identity when the number was sold on the black market.
IRS e-mail scams
E-mail is also being used by scammers to target unsuspecting people. In late September, IRS warned that a fake IRS Form CP2000 is being sent to tax payers. CP2000 is an IRS notice that the IRS has received financial information from a third party that doesn’t match information that a person reported on his/her tax return. The email asks you to click on the payment link or to mail your payment to the “Austin Processing Center.”
Not only are scammers creative by the ploys and fear tactics they use to gain our attention, they are also adept at using various communication tools, including calls, e-mails, texts, or other social media contacts. And, their means of payment vary too. Payments are requested via Western Union, Money Grams and other non-refundable methods or through credit cards, prepaid debit card cards, prepaid i-Tunes cards, or even bit coin.
Scammers prey on unsuspecting Americans by using aggressive and frightening techniques. This fraudulent behavior has become a profitable business both nationally and internationally.
Here are some tips to help you avoid being the scammers’ next victim
- give out personal information to someone who has called you.
- pay any upfront fees over the phone or via the internet.
- accept checks with amounts over the agreed upon price.
- agree to send money back.
- pay bills using checks or credit cards. Both leave paper and electronic trails that law enforcement agencies can track back to criminals.
- hang up when someone calls and pressures you for money — even the “IRS,” which communicates through the U.S. Mail service and will never ask for payments by debit cards, wire transfer, or bit coin.
Do hang up if you receive phone calls pressuring you for money owed.
Do not opened any attachments or click any links in e-mails. Forward an IRS phone scam e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.