By: Sharon Aron Baron
I received a phone call today from someone telling me that an arrest warrant was underway if I didn’t pay my taxes from 2011. I picked up my cellphone and camera and recorded the call and had a little fun with the scammers.
Although it is not legal to record phone conversations without the other party’s consent, I knew this was a scam, and the perpetrators would never likely file charges.
In the call, the person tells me (by name) that I owe over $4,000 in taxes, an arrest warrant is underway, and I’ll go to jail for six months. I know I didn’t owe money, and this was also verified later by my accountant, who told me that I was the fourth person to call him today about this scam.
The woman hands the call over to a supervisor who will work it out with me if I am interested in resolving it. He gets on the line, asks if I have the money available, and gives me instructions on how to purchase an IRS Voucher at Winn Dixie. He wants me to use my cell phone so that he can give me step-by-step instructions. This is probably to keep me engaged, so I wouldn’t verify this was a scam with anyone. I insisted I didn’t have a cellphone because there was no way I wanted these people to badger me after today.
On September 4, the IRS issued a strong warning for consumers to guard against sophisticated and aggressive phone scams targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, as reported incidents of this crime continue to rise nationwide.
People have reported a particularly aggressive phone scam in the last several months. Immigrants are frequently targeted. Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked. Callers are often insulting or hostile – apparently to scare their potential victims.
Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds or owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords, or similar confidential access information for a credit card, bank, or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to email@example.com.