While I usually don’t pick up random calls, for some reason I answered the Washington, D.C. area code number and was shocked to hear it was an IRS agent calling about a case against me. He told me I’d been audited and owed about $5,000 immediately and otherwise I would have to serve jail time. Looking back, I should have instantly known the phone call was a scam, but he caught me at a bad time and they were shockingly convincing. They had my name, my address, and they had one huge advantage on me: I actually had been waiting for a response from the IRS.
I didn’t know the golden rule that the IRS communicate by mail only, so I was very close to being one of the millions of Americans who have fallen victim to the impersonation scam that is sweeping our nation. The scam may not be a new one, but it’s gotten so bad lately, that in March 2015 CNN reported the callers, believed to be operating out of India, have swindled more than $15 million out of Americans since 2013.
Luckily, I didn’t give any money, but I was so upset by the news that I easily could have. The scammers use fear tactics in their calls and target younger adults like myself and the unknowing elderly. The IRS is tirelessly trying to end the fraud, but in the meantime, please check out the five ways to spot a scam phone call, per the IRS website.
If someone calls you to demand immediate payment: The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
If someone demands that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
If someone requires you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
If someone asks for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If someone threatens to bring in local police or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
Please help protect your loved ones and their parents from this scam!