Linda Davis worried when she heard the message that an IRS agent called. She phoned back immediately. “It had me so nervous. I was really shaken.”
A man with a South Asian accent told her she owed the IRS money and if she didn’t pay she would go to jail. “I was crying hysterically,” she told us. “I said, ‘I don’t understand this. I’m not behind in anything.’ He told me, ‘You either pay now or you go to jail. A marshal will come to your house and you’ll spent at least ten days in jail.'”
A few minutes after Linda told me her story about the obvious fake call, my husband got a call on his cellphone from 802-296-1308, a number in Vermont, and I returned the call. A man with a South Asian accent gave me roughly the same spiel as Linda received. It sounded like he worked in a call center. I had a lot of voices in the background that you may also hear if you listen to the conversation I recorded with the scammer. You’ll hear that he demands money and threatens to have me arrested. There is an expletive (his) at the end, so beware.
The IRS continues to issue alerts about scam calls that seem to have reached epidemic proportion.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “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. We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”
The calls that Linda and my husband received fit the pattern and here’s what the IRS says you should do if you receive a call like this:
The IRS says:
1. It will never call to demand immediate payment.
2. If you owe money, it will send a bill.
3. It will never demand money without giving you a chance to appeal or challenge the agency.
4. It will never require you to use a specific payment method like a pre-paid card.
5. It will never ask for credit card, or debit information on the phone.
6. It will never threaten to bring local police or other law enforcement agents to have you arrested.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE A CALL FROM THE “IRS.”
If you get a call from a so-called IRS agent, hang up.
Don’t give out any information.
Report the call and the number if you have it to the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting Page, or call 1-800-366-4484.
You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
TARGETING OLDER PEOPLE
Beware also, because scammers now use the same pattern to demand money for so-called unpaid debts and they target older people. Our friend Renata received a call from a man who demanded her Social Security number. “He scared me to death,” she said. But she smartly recorded the call and shared the information with law enforcement. She also shared the call with us.