What makes someone fall for a scam? Typically, it is persistence and planning on the part of con artists that make us believe their web of lies.
Since early 2014, scammers have been posing as IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agents or someone from the U.S. Treasury Department. They call and tell you that there are complications regarding your tax return.
“This swindle is incredibly simple and straightforward. The crooks pretend to be an IRS agent or someone from the U.S. Treasury Department calling about a problem with your tax return,” writes Herb Weisbaum, CNBC contributor in a of USA Today article.
According to the article, Lois Greisman, associate director at the Federal Trade Commission, says, “Some of them can become very threatening and very abusive.” Furthermore, “They say you didn’t pay enough or the money wasn’t received, and the only way to remedy this and make sure nothing bad happens to you is to get money to them immediately.”
These tax scammers have been trying to scam taxpayers by telling the unsuspecting individuals they call, that they will face arrest or deportation if they do not pay in full.
“They may also claim that they can revoke a license or shut down a business if they don’t get the money right away,” writes Weisbaum.
Some taxpayers have reported hanging up on the scammers only to have another con artist call and claim to be a local police officer. This leaves people feeling scared, confused and backed into a corner.
“They may be willing to take a credit card payment, but typically they want you to go to the store and wire them money or buy a preloaded debit card and call them back with the card number and PIN,” according to the USA Today article.
Tax scam victims have reported losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars to this scam. If paid via cashier’s check or money order, the money is gone forever.
In March of this year, J. Russell George, the treasury inspector General for Tax Administration, issued a statement in which he called this “the largest scam of its kind we have ever seen.” During which time, “TIGTA said it had received reports of scam attempts from more than 20,000 people and knew of thousands of victims who had collectively paid more than $1 million,” writes Weisbaum.
Some victims have received calls from people posing as Officer Smith, Officer Alex Marshall, or Officer Jason Miller. In addition, some scammers are using robocalls, which are automated recordings for your phone. This helps them cast a wide net to target potential victims.
If you are someone you know has been scammed, it is important to contact the IRS and your local law enforcement immediately. you can also notify TIGTA by filling out this form.
As a rule of thumb, it is crucial to remember that the IRS does not contact taxpayers via phone, email or any social media site. If you do receive a phone call from the IRS it is typically because of specific circumstances, and it would usually be about making an appointment for an audit.
If you have questions, contact the IRS at (800) 829-1040.