I had three messages on my voice mail on Monday.
The first was this message:
The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately on our department number 862-274-2489. I repeat 862-274-2489. Thank you.
The second was a variation on that message but with a different callback number (716-265-1636).
The third was more stern, advising:
Hello, this call is officially a final notice from IRS, Internal Revenue Service is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately on our department number 260-216-1206. I repeat 260-216-1206. Thank you.
I knew that I had to write about getting the calls because I think it’s important for folks to understand how widespread and common they are (even my daughter received one on her cell phone and she’s just a kid).
I thought about not posting the exact numbers when I wrote about them but ultimately decided to do so after a quick search on the internet. Apparently, taxpayers are still questioning whether these calls are for real (they are not). On a few sites dedicated to helping folks sort out potentially abusive calls, these specific phone numbers listed above have come up with comments like “seems fraudulent.” I posted the numbers to clarify that it “seems fraudulent” because it is (I should also note that these numbers have allegedly been associated with other scams, including a Microsoft hack scam and a payday loan scam, as well).
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a warning about these “robo-call” scams just last week. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, about the calls, “It used to be that most of these bogus calls would come from a live person. Scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible.”
And they don’t discriminate when choosing potential victims. They’ll call anyone, even a tax attorney, and even someone who has written about these scams pretty regularly.
How you react is important. You should not answer these calls, and you should not return these calls – even when you know that it’s a scam. There’s no way to win with scammers, and there may even be unintended consequences. Trust me. I wanted to call back. My husband joked I should start out by telling them they called a tax attorney. It doesn’t matter. Even when you call them on the scam or whistle in their ear, you lose: scammers are likely mining all kinds of data from these calls.
Other IRS and tax-related scams involve the nonexistent “Federal Student Tax,” scams targeting tax professionals and scams advising you to pay with iTunes gift cards and other gift cards).
As a reminder, the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Don’t engage or respond with scammers. Here’s what to do if you receive a suspicious phone call or message:
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t engage with the scammer and do not give out any information. Just hang up.
- If you receive a telephone message from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t call them back.
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, and you owe tax or think you may owe tax, do not give out any information. Call the IRS back at 1.800.829.1040 to find out more information.
- You can also contact Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to report scam calls by calling 1.800.366.4484 or by using the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” form on their website. You may also want to report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report persons pretending to be from the government; please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Don’t fall for the tricks. Keep your personal information safe by remaining alert. For tips on protecting yourself from identity ttheft-relatedtax fraud, click here.