I Received a Fake IRS Telephone Call

I received a phone call this week from the Internal Revenue Service. At least, the caller on the pre-recorded message said she was calling from the officer of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in regards to my case of being in default for payment.

In the pre-recorded message, “Officer Julie Smith” asked me to call a certain telephone number to make immediate payment. She said I could pay by a prepaid credit card over the phone or by a direct wire payment from my bank. She also warned that if I did not take action immediately I would face court action and possible imprisonment.

I laughed.

First of all, the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t make phone calls asking for payment. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they do it by postal mail, not by phone or by email. If the request for payment involves a large amount of money or if it is a repeat request, the envelope is sent to you by registered mail. If the IRS does want to contact someone, they certainly will never do so by using a pre-recorded telephone message.

Next, the IRS doesn’t have any employees with the title of “Officer.” The agency has “agents” and a lot of other titles, but no officers. If anyone calls claiming to be an “officer” from the IRS, you know the call is fake.

The IRS also doesn’t ask people to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and doesn’t ask for credit card numbers over the phone. The normal method of payment is by a bank check or money order. The taxpayer in default typically also has to sign some paperwork; just providing a credit card number by itself with no accompanying documentation is insufficient.

Telephone calls from people claiming to be IRS employees are placed by scammers, many of whom are outside the United States. Caller ID may show a U.S. number, however. Showing a fake Caller ID is easy with today’s technology! If you do make a payment, the money quickly disappears.

If you do receive such a call, do several things:

First, hang up.

Next, report the incident to TIGTA online at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml or call the TIGTA at 800-366-4484.

Finally, file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. From the complaint homepage, select “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” In the notes, please include “IRS Telephone Scam.” Provide as many details as possible about the call.

I also added the telephone number shown in Caller ID in the call I received to my telephone service’s “block future calls” list. That way, any future calls from the same telephone number will be blocked and my phone will not ring. Admittedly, I doubt if that is very effective as these scammers probably can change phone numbers easily. However, it may block some future calls.

For more information about this scam, read IRS Repeats Warning about Phone Scams on the (official) IRS web site at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Repeats-Warning-about-Phone-Scams.

16 Comments

How do you know they are not showing a phone number that belongs to someone you know and don’t really want to be blocking?
Email spammers sent things from known addresses all the time.

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I had a spam email the other day from HM Revenue and Customs the UK equivalent, attempting to get me to supply personal details.
Ironically I am not only a former HM Inspector of Taxes, but also in receipt of a HMRC pension in respect of my service.

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    … and I keep getting unsolicited ‘phone calls from my accountant reminding me that my wife hasn’t sent them my tax details so that they can complete my self assessment 🙂

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We received THREE calls from “Julie.” We just hung up. Next time (and there WILL be a next time) I’ll take your advice and report it…

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Had the same about a month ago, (?Indian accent), I said I need proof: email or letter, he got belligerent, and advised if I did not pay, the police will be coming to arrest me. 🙂 LOL

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I got one this week from a live person. Male, spoke with a foreign accent, I forget the name or title he used. He said he was with the IRS. Before he got any further, I said “I doubt it.” He said very sarcastically “Good luck with your case,” and hung up.”

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Yes – I heard many of the things that have been reported above. But the real clue that the call was a scam was when my “Julie” ended her message with “Have a good day”. Have you ever heard anyone from the IRS ever wish you ‘a good day’?

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An elderly woman in my small hometown received a message supposedly from the power company with directions to send payment immediately using a debit card of a certain brand. There are no sources for that brand card here, so she called the law wanting to know what to do since she didn’t want the power cut off. The local newspaper informed others of this scam.

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The newspapers in this area have been full of warnings about this scam and a number of variations for the last few months. Callers have claimed to be from:
IRS / Dept of Revenue / Tax Dept, etc.
Local electric, gas and water utilities
Payday loan companies
Police or others holding grandchildren and other friends or relatives for bail, ransom, etc.

In most cases the caller claims the only acceptable method of payment is via a pre-paid money card of one kind or another (frequently a “Green Dot” card).

The calls have especially targeted older people, although anyone may potentially receive one.

Please do not fall for these scams. If you receive any of these calls, report them at once to the authorities, including the FTC and TIGTA as suggested by Dick, and also to any local utility the caller may name. (Look up the correct phone numbers at the company’s own website or in your local phone book. Do not call any phone number supplied to you by the caller — it is probably a fake, manned by one of the caller’s partners in crime.)

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We received a call at 3:07AM on Halloween — a nasty TRICK! No treats for them. We let it go to the answering machine — accent sounded like someone from India, but the area code was 571, and caller ID said ‘out of area.’ No Kidding!

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I, too, received a call from the “IRS” about a month ago….it went to answering machine & I still have it on the tape. I did not detect a foreign accent. The # was on the caller ID, but I didn’t check it out bc I knew it was a scam. I was going to call my state attorney general; but they request so much paper work to be completed that I chose not to. I have attempted to block calls before, but it is not as easy as blocking an email address.

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A co-worker of mine is Indian and he (and his friends) are constantly receiving these types of calls. The immigrant population is widely targeted.

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I got a call last week from a “representative of Microsoft” saying that they had detected a problem with my Microsoft Account and needed more information. I told them that they had the wrong number because “I don’t have a Microsoft account”. I’m on a Mac.

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    Luckily we haven’t heard from the IRS, yet… However, we too have received several calls supposedly from “Microsoft”. (And almost daily from “Rachel” at “Card Services!) One day I tried telling the “Microsoft” person he should be ashamed of himself for trying to scam us but the fellow just got obnoxious. My usual tactic is to very nicely tell them they must have us confused with someone else, blah, blah blah…( as I waste his time). Then I say, “Sir, we would really appreciate if you would please correct this error, and please remove our phone number from your list because we don’t own a computer”. That’s when they hang up. I absolutely detest lies, and I actually feel bad (a little) about it. But, they are being dishonest, interrupting us and wasting our time. On the plus side, it keeps my BP lower than if I just told the guy off… : ) Maybe its finally worked because we haven’t heard from “Microsoft” for quite a while…

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I have lost my Mom 3.2 million dollars! Three calls from Publishing Clearing House. I called and reported one of them to Publishing Clearing House and now I just tell them you are a fraud and I have reported you to PCH. The one guy I just decided to play along with and he was suppose to fax me the info and guess what all of a sudden his fax machine was not working and he was having it fixed. He was suppose to have the money delivered by UPS at 3:00 ( big joke) So I was on the phone with someone at 3:00, someone was calling in and I new it was him. As soon as Hung up he called and said: I have been trying to call you, who were you talking too? Was I talking to someone about him? I informed him first of all it was not his business who I was talking to and I was not talking about him then.. But that I had contacted PCH and gave them the info to their scam department and they would be contacting him and that was all I had to say. But today we have received 2 more calls. I told them they had been reported.. What a joke. I just hate the fact that they will scam someone who can’t afford it. Not that anyone can afford to lose money..

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