As if dealing with the actual Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn’t bad enough, scam calls from people pretending to be from the agency are on the rise.
Some of the calls are computer-generated robo-calls, and some come from actual live humans.
The scammers often resort to extreme measures to try to extort money from people – some callers will say that the IRS has a warrant out for your arrest, or that you are being monitored. They’ll even say that local police will arrest you if you don’t pay up immediately.
The IRS issued a warning about the scams last year:
“Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”
“There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment,” Koskinen added. “Some schemes may say you’re entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you.”
It is kind of funny to hear the IRS – of all entities – warning folks about people trying to steal their money (Hello, Pot? This is Kettle. You’re black!), but I digress.
While the scam seems obvious to many, unfortunately a lot of people have fallen for it. In January 2016, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.
The IRS does call people regarding taxes owed now (this is a relatively new practice), but only after first mailing a bill. And, the agency will not demand money from you under threat of arrest, and will not ask for your credit card information over the phone.
Another tell-tale sign of a scam? An actual IRS agent will never ask you to pay your tax debt with iTunes or other pre-paid gift cards.
In this video, actor and writer Ashton Bingham expertly – and hilariously – trolls an IRS scammer.
Earlier this year, a man in Wisconsin received a message from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller said the man would be arrested if he didn’t call back.
The man who that scammer was targeting just happened to be Eau Claire Police Department Officer Kyle Roder. Roder called the scammer back, recorded the interaction, and posted the video online to educate the public.
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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”