Have you gotten a call from the IRS lately?
Someone claiming to be a representative of the IRS calls you, saying you have some exorbitant tax debt, and threatens you with arrest or the cancelation of your Social Security number.
That’s scary, to say the least. But we won’t bury the lede here.
It’s a total fake.
The IRS is not calling you, despite how intimidating, threatening, and real their call may sound. They’ve never called you, and they never will. For however long that scammer can convince you to stay on the phone listening to their threats, they’ve simply extended the time they have to pitch the latest tax-related scam to hit your phone.
Consider this blog a PSA: We’re going to teach you how this latest tax scam came to be, how to spot an IRS scam call, and what to do if you find yourself on the line with a scammer.
We’ve probably all gotten more than our fair share of robocalls the past few years.
As our data swirls around between data providers, apps, social media sites, and advertisers, it becomes easier and easier for your phone to become a target for an unscrupulous con artist who wants to get their hands on your money or personal info.
Our lack of true online privacy these days is the real culprit responsible for this newest wave of phone-based tax scams. Sure, major data breaches haven’t helped the situation. Overall, though, our phone numbers have found their way around the internet mostly because of how freely we’re willing to give away our personal information, how much personal info our most popular websites ask of us for signup, and how often these same sites tend to sell lists with our names, numbers, and emails on them.
In short, it’s far too easy to get your hands on contact info these days, so any motivated scammer has a path to get what they want: A few minutes of your time.
The latest twist on the usual phone scam centers around your SSN, and the end goal is for you to call them back. Here are a few things to look for in the call, according to the IRS.
Typically, the voice on the call will mention overdue taxes you haven’t paid, and they’ll threaten to cancel your Social Security number if you don’t comply. They won’t shy away from leaving a voicemail, so if you haven’t answered the phone because you didn’t recognize the phone number, you may see a voicemail pop up shortly after.
In summary: Someone calls you, claims you haven’t paid your taxes, and threatens to cancel your SSN.
You’ll be able to spot this as a scam—or any future phone scams—for a few reasons. First of all, if the IRS wants to get in touch with you, they’ll do it by mail. Here’s a brief list of actions the IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will never take:
If these scam robocalls are common enough for the IRS to put out a warning about them, there’s a decent chance you may end up on the receiving end of one before too long. And if you are, you need to be prepared to deal with it.
If you receive one of these calls or find a voicemail from someone claiming to represent the IRS, here are the steps you should take:
When phone tax scammers get smart, you need to get smarter. The fastest way to beat the scammers is to spread the good information faster than they can spread the bad.
Keep updated on scams and send this article to a friend or family member who’s received one of these calls. Stay two steps ahead and prevent the worry and identity theft that come from phishing scams. You’re already off to a good start.