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ALERT – Phone Call Scammers Claiming to be IRS Agents

Join Our Mailing List

Doctors – Beware!

By Andrew Schwartz, CPA

Andrew SchwartzYikes!  I got the call.

As I’ve noted before; identity theft in connection with federal tax filings is on the rise.

One specific fraud involves people receiving phone calls from scammers posing as IRS agents and then being aggressively instructed to wire money directly to the scammer to pay off a fictitious tax debt.

The Transcript

Here is a transcript of the automated voicemail message left on my home phone last month by someone trying to commit this fraud on me:

You received this message.  I need you or your retained attorney to return this call.  The issue at hand is extremely time sensitive.  I’m officer Hannah Gray from the Internal Revenue Service and the hot line to my position is 415-251-9813.  I repeat, it’s 415-251-9813.  Don’t disregard this message and return this call before we take any legal allegation against you.  Goodbye and take care.

If I weren’t aware that this scam existed, my initial reaction would have been to call the number left by the scammer as soon as possible.  But remember, the IRS does not send e-mails or make phone calls like these to taxpayers. Instead, the IRS is continually warning taxpayers about scams like this; including the following press release issued last Halloween:

IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam

IR-2013-84, Oct. 31, 2013

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 this scam 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 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • 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 1.800.366.4484.
  • 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.

***

Calling

***

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 IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone 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.

Assessment

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

More:

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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7 Responses

  1. The Problem With Online Financial Fraud Prevention

    Ross Hogan, global head of the Fraud Prevention Division for Kaspersky Lab, discusses the results of a new survey on how businesses are addressing online financial fraud.

    http://www.cioinsight.com/security/the-problem-with-online-financial-fraud-prevention.html/?kc=CIOQUICKNL09092014FEA1&dni=165131178&rni=29507698

    Just, extending the paradigm.

    http://money.msn.com/identity-theft/article.aspx?post=c3ccf858-3d2b-4aaa-a8f5-e78f82fd7ee7

    Ward

    Like

  2. 7 more scams that just won’t die

    Ward and Andrew – Some scams are new, while others are oldies (but baddies).

    http://money.msn.com/identity-theft/article.aspx?post=a20dab02-9f05-47bb-a0ef-e0f974fd272e

    So, keep your guard up when it comes to deals that sound too good to be true, or unsolicited calls about your computer.

    Hope R. Hetico RN MHA

    Like

  3. Watch out for this Social Security scam

    Mr. Schwartz – Many thanks for the warning. Here is another:

    http://money.msn.com/retirement/article.aspx?post=7afa849c-4065-4389-9f6c-286b49e35bc6

    In this scheme, scammers are asking for lots of personal information by posing as government officials.

    Dr. Quillen

    Like

  4. We need change

    Yet More IRS Employees Busted for Stealing Taxpayers’ Identities

    “It’s hard to keep up with the privacy-threatening shenanigans at the Internal Revenue Service, but let’s give it a try.

    Just days after revealing that the tax agency’s failure to follow its own rules put the private data of 1.4 million people at risk, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration publicized the sentencing of Tax Examining Technician Missy Sledge for aggravated identity theft and mail fraud, and IRS employee Monica Hernandez for making and subscribing a false income tax return, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.”

    By J.D. Tuccille
    [Reason.com September 29, 2014]

    http://reason.com/blog/2014/09/29/yet-more-irs-employees-busted-for-steali

    This is the same department that lost emails that were requested in a Senate investigation of malfeasance in Obamacare, which we chose to be run by the IRS … What were we thinking?

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

    Like

  5. Advisors Beware – Top Tricks of Fraudsters

    As hackers and scam artists become more sophisticated, screening for scams can be difficult.

    http://www.financial-planning.com/30-days-30-ways/advisors-beware-top-tricks-of-frausters-2690711-1.html?utm_campaign=30%20days%2030%20ways-oct%207%202014&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&ET=financialplanning%3Ae3163200%3A86235a%3A&st=email

    Financial Advisors [FAs] must understand the top threats to client data and what might happen in the event of a breach.

    Ward

    Like

  6. I.R.S. Says It Will Reject Tax Returns that Lack Health Insurance Disclosure

    Not a fake story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/health/irs-obamacare-mandate.html

    Dewey

    Liked by 1 person

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