How to Protect Yourself from the IRS Scam

What would you do if someone from the IRS called you, said you owed thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes, and that the police were on their way to arrest you unless you pay immediately? Chances are you’d be pretty intimidated and terrified. But the better way to feel is suspicious. Because as of January of this year, callers posing as Internal Revenue Service agents have stolen over $80,000 fromArizona Residents in a nationwide scam that continues to grow in volume. According to federal authorities, as many as 1,100 people across the country have lost five million to con artist threatening an arrest if they don’t immediately pay thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes. Here’s what you need to know about this deceitful scheme and how to protect yourself from the IRS scam.

No Immunity: There’s no rhyme or reason as to why these con artists are targeting certain people. Callers are pursuing people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ethnicities, and income brackets so there is no immunity from this fraud. After making the initial call of owing thousands in unpaid taxes, callers proceed to follow up with secondary calls said to be from police officers on their way to arrest the victim. Or that there is a warrant out for their arrest. They may even claim that they plan on showing up at the victim’s home, place of business, and family members’ homes until they can be tracked down and collect payment. In some variations on the IRS theme, callers will target foreign-born residents with threats of deportation.

Wire woes: After the callers have instilled fear in the victim, they persuade them to purchase Green Dot MoneyPak cards and wire thousands of dollars to prearranged accounts. They’ll even go as far as to stay on the phone while the victim completes the transactions. Like debit cards, MoneyPak cards which are sold at retailers such as Wal-Mart and Safeway, can be purchased and loaded with cash. Once loaded, the criminals request the account information which gives them immediate access to the money.

Red Flag Reveal: Despite the fact that many of these callers have personal details about the victims such as social security numbers and birthdates, people should not solely rely on that information as proof they are dealing with a legitimate IRS agent. First red flag: IRS agents don’t make cold calls to taxpayers regarding problems. They will contact consumers via letter. Second red flag: IRS agents don’t ask for credit cards over the phone, wire transfers, or prepaid debit cards. Third red flags: IRS agents will not use aggressive threat tactics or claim arrest warrants or jail time. 

Protect Yourself: If you or someone you know receives this type of high pressure, threatening phone call hang up immediately and contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 FREE. If you’ve determined you don’t owe unpaid taxes, help alert and protect others by reporting the call to the inspector general at 1-800-366-4484 FREE. Complaints can also be filed online with the Federal Trade Commission at Mention "IRS Telephone Scam" in the complaint's comment section.

Have you been victimized by this IRS scam? Share your story on the Simply Property Management-Paielli Realty, Inc. Facebook orTwitter page or comment on our blog below and help spread awareness about this fraudulent scheme. And as always, stay safe, think smart, and protect your wallet. –Greg

Greg Paielli

Simply Property Management – Paielli Realty, Inc.

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