Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Host of Telephone Scams, One from the "IRS"

I recently have had a whole bunch of messages left on my phone from telephone scammers.

They usually are calling to leave a message for someone who is not me. They say I must call this number immediately or legal action will be taken. This usually involves money owed by this mythical person. The call ends with you must call or a bench warrant will be issued. This is your final notice.

Invariable they call back again and leave the same message. So I guess it wasn't the final notice after all. The idea behind this scam it to get you to call the number. Say that you are not the person they are looking for. The response is well this is the number for said mythical person. Then at some point they say well for a small fee we'll change the information we have. Of course you have to give a whole bunch of information which allows the scammer to steal you identity.

The new one I've gotten recently is a call from the IRS saying I owe money on taxes. I must call immediately or action will be taken against me.

In the past week I've received two of these calls. The first was from a very charming sound automated assistant. The second sounded like an actual person calling. They call in the middle of the day knowing most people won't be home so they don't have to answer any sort of questions you might have.

The second call from the guy started out by saying this is a message for you. Not saying who the person was they were trying to contact but just a message for you. He identified himself as Steve Martin. Yes Steve Martin (I wonder if he is a wild and crazy guy). But he wasn't from Hollywood from his accent you could tell he was from the Indian subcontinent.

Again I had to contact them immediately or a summary judgement would be rendered against me.

I just laughed. Do people really fall for this crap? The answer is they do.

This seems to be a scam going around the DC area. There have been a couple of news story on it. In those stories several people have been taken for thousand of dollars.

Here's information on the scam from the real IRS:
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail

Here's a link to a story about what happened to one person. Instead of calling back she did the following:
So, what did I do instead? I wrote down the phone number so I could report the call to the FTC and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). If I’d been concerned that maybe I owed money to the IRS, I knew that I could check with the IRS directly by calling 1-800-829-1040.

That's what everyone should do that gets this kind of call.

Although I do admit it would be fun to call them back. Play along for awhile and then say something all these lines: Do you know where the 202 area code is? Well it's Washington DC. Do you know that the IRS is located there. Just so happens I work for the real IRS. Tomorrow I'm going to report you to the fraud division. I'm assuming by the time I got to that part the person would have hung up. It would be nice just for once to turn the scam on them. 

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