Scam IRS Calls–IRS Warns Of Pervasive Telephone Scam

A few weeks ago, we blogged about a bogus company making scam IRS calls to people with (and without) tax problems. The IRS recently published guidance about some of the tricks the scammers have been using, including spoofing real IRS and local police department phone numbers to appear on recipient’s caller IDs when they make their scam IRS calls.

We’ve been warning our clients that they might get these scam calls. This story comes from one of our clients who decided to get a little creative:

“So these guys from wherever left a message on my home phone machine telling me I had to pay my IRS bill or I would go to prison. So I called back from a different number so they couldn’t tell it was me. So I said ‘yeah I owe you guys $532,430 and I figured I better pay before you arrest me. Only one question, where do I send the check? To Kansas City?’

And then this guy goes ‘Oh no sir, what we will need to do is get your credit card number.’

And then I said ‘my credit card number? What kind of credit card has a limit of $532,430?’

Then the guy stutters for a reason. And then I say ‘hey what happening there? Just how stupid are you people at the IRS? I’m trying to pay you the $532,430 I owe and you morons can’t even tell me to where to send the check?’

And then the guy say ‘We need a valid credit card in US dollars.’

And so then I yell back ‘In US dollars? Well, what the else was I going to pay you with? Italian Lire? What the hell is this? I don’t think you guys are from the IRS at all. Just what the hell scam are you morons running?’

So this really bugged the guy and got under his skin. So he said — no kidding — to me ‘Actually sir I am a pimp, sir. I am a pimp and I pimp your wife and daughter to the world. And I make a lot of money pimping them.’

So I started laughing out loud, and said ‘o.k., o.k., buddy, I’m just going to report your number to the FBI.’

And then he yelled to the rest of his boiler room and and he said ‘guys — this idiot is going to report us to the FBI.’ And then he said to me ‘the FBI doesn’t care about us. They have other things to do.’

And so I called the FBI, they said to call the FTC. I figure if they call again, there’s other ways to tweak them.”

Here is the official warning from the IRS regarding scam IRS calls, which unfortunately includes no smarmy anecdote:

IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through 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.

“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. “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.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.

Other characteristics of these scam IRS calls include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers 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, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

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, call 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. first educate yourself about what really can be done by going to www.irsmedic.com (that is my edit).

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), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

If you’ve been targeted by scam IRS calls, 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.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams in addition to scam IRS calls (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against scam IRS calls and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes 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. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.”