Phone Scams Continue to Beguile Helpless Victims

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Every year the IRS posts a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams in order to inform citizens of tax scams and deter crime. Phone scams, in which a con artists pose as an IRS agent, top the list again. This is no departure from the norm; the IRS phone scam has been a ruse utilized by confidence men, year after year.

How it Works

Scam artist call customers and demand money in backed IRS taxes. There has been a recent surge in phone scams due to innovative technology that allows criminals to alter their caller ID to make it appear like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and conjure phony badge numbers out of thin air. Often times, these scam artist will leave urgent call back requests. They tend to exploit vulnerable people such as the elderly—as if being old wasn’t hard enough. Also, newly arrived immigrants who struggle with English are targets.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received 290,000 contacts of suspected scam artists; TIGTA is aware of nearly 3,000 individuals victimized by IRS phone scams; and TIGTA estimate nearly $14 million paid out by the scam every year.

Protecting yourself

Phone scam artists are far from brilliant criminal masterminds. Their tactics are obvious, and awareness of a few simple warning signs will surely protect against these criminals.

Anytime someone calls and demands an immediate payment, chances are the person is a scam artist. The IRS usually will send you a verified letter in the mail explaining the amount you owe and the reason for it.

If someone requests credit card information, or asks you to purchase a prepaid debit card, then that is almost certainly a scam artist. Moreover, if someone begins requesting private information that too is most likely a scam artist. The IRS has access to this information already.

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