I was a little worried when I heard an employee in my office had to leave in the middle of the day for an emergency.
While assuming it was a family emergency or something similar, turns out, she had received a call from an IRS impersonator threatening her with a lawsuit and arrest if she did not pay taxes owed immediately.
Unfortunately, scams such as these are happening to thousands of people. Using fear and intimidation tactics, IRS impersonators corner their victims into believing that they have a small window of time to make payment.These criminals demand that the victim stays on the phone while being directed to a store and asked to purchase iTunes gift cards to satisfy payment.
Why iTunes gift cards? Because once you tell a scammer the code from the back of an iTunes card, he takes control of the value on the card. He can use the code or sell it. After a person redeems the code, you can’t get your money back.
Fortunately for my employee, she thought it was strange for a government employee to demand payment via iTunes gift cards and hung up. Unfortunately, other people have not been so lucky and have lost thousands of dollars to scammers.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
- If you get a strange call from the government, hang up. If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue. Government employees won’t call out of the blue to demand money or account information.
- Don’t wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue.
- Don’t give out — or confirm — your personal or financial information to someone who calls.
- Be aware that scammers can fake the number you see on your caller ID.
- If you feel pressured to act immediately, hang up. Even if the name or number on the caller ID looks legit.
How to Spot a Fraudulent IRS Call:
The IRS will never...
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the IRS call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes. Other common payment methods scammers might ask for include Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla, or by wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
3 Way to Protect You and Your Loved Ones from Scammers:
- Look into an identity theft and fraud protection service, such as Lifelock (click here to visit the LifeLock website). You can also call your bank and see what protection programs they offer.
- Be aware of fraudulent emails as well. Use Google 2-step verification and change your password frequently.
- Share these tips with your friends and family. Spread the word.
I hope these tips come in handy and prevent you and your loved ones from being a victim. Stay safe.