Phone scams are not new. Anyone who receives an annoying robocall (or two, or two thousand) on their phone knows this to be the case. There are fraudsters out there placing fake phone calls trying to lure you into sharing your personal contact information to allow them to snag all your money. We know you are #NumberSmart and therefore not going to fall victim to this, but we like to keep you in the loop to inform others around you.
A trend with which we are noticing higher volume is one involving the IRS. And yes, this seems to be happening even after tax season.
Here’s what happens:
You receive a call from someone saying that you they owe thousands of dollars in taxes/fines and there’s a warrant out for your arrest. They may answer the call with something like, “Mr. Johnson, my name is Eileen and my badge ID is……according to what we see here, you owe $4,751 in back taxes. Are you aware of this? What is the name of your accountant?”
If you answer with your accountant’s information, you may witness a fake conversation in the background of “Eileen” talking to a police officer. They then tell you that your accountant has denied all responsibility and it is up to you to pay the fine, which you must do right now or else you will be arrested.
You may also begin to notice this happening via a text message. They may ask you to call them back at a specific telephone number.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
According to a section from the IRS website, IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Spam Phone Calls, the IRS will not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” webpage. You can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
The BBB, in their article, IRS Fraud Calls May Be The New Trend in Tax Scams, writes:
A federal law signed in 2015 lets four contractors collect unpaid tax debts for the government. According to the IRS, these are unpaid tax debts that were assessed several years ago and which the agency is no longer trying to collect directly.
All four of the companies contracted by the IRS are BBB Accredited Businesses:
1309 Technology Pkwy
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
200 CrossKeys Office park
Fairport, NY 14450
333 N Canyons Pkwy
Livermore, CA 94551
325 Daniel Zenker Dr
Horseheads, NY 14845
There are many ways to tell whether a call you receive about tax debts is an IRS fraud call. According to the IRS, people with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts, including letters and phone calls, from the IRS first. The IRS will also always notify taxpayers before sending their accounts to a private collection agency.
So, what are we doing?
At NumberBarn, we’re doing our absolute best to detect fraud trends and be proactive about removing fraudulent accounts. We take your security seriously and have no patience for individuals who abuse the system. We may take extra measures to verify orders and we appreciate your cooperation with these steps. Should you have any additional questions or concerns about this process, you are welcome to contact us.