The I.R.S. is Not Calling for $$$
Like many of you, I’ve received several phone calls on my personal and business phones from aggressive, foreign sounding men claiming to be Internal Revenue Service collection agents. They claim that an error was discovered in my tax return and that unless I immediately make payment arrangements with them, that often involves buying a prepaid debit card and providing them with the card number, that I will face a federal grand jury and a U.S. Magistrate will put me in jail.
When I first wrote about this in 2017, over 300,000 people had been contacted by these scammers in the preceding year, and over $14 million dollars had been stolen from 3,000 frightened victims. Now, in 2022, some reports find that consumers have lost 29.8 billion dollars in the past year due to phone scams of all kinds, especially pandemic-related scams.
The fact is, the I.R.S. will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will it call before mailing you a bill. The I.R.S. will also give you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed. The I.R.S. will not require a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card nor will it ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Finally, the I.R.S. will not threaten you with arrest, deportation or license revocation.
Should you receive one of these calls, after laughing loudly and hanging up, you are encouraged to report the incident to TIGTA (U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) at 1-800-366-4484. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant.
Also, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has provided valuable information on how to recognize and avoid tax scams which is worth taking the time to read.
As a private attorney who practices civil litigation and criminal defense, I understand the elements that victims of fraud must establish to prove their claim and obtain a judgment against these predators. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to find the culprits, who often operate in foreign countries, or recover your monetary losses from hidden assets.
You may not be able to put these criminals out of business, but with a bit of skepticism about who you’re really talking to, or careful attention to the emails you open, you can avoid becoming another one of their victims.