Ok, so this isn’t a tax topic, but it did occur in our CPA firm so I’m gonna say it qualifies. It seems that there is just no limit to what thieves will do in this new cyber age.
This episode happened to our office manager last week. She answered her cell phone and was greeted by a man who knew her name. He told her that he had her daughter and that he was going to kill her if she did not do exactly as he said. He said he was going to start by cutting off her ear. While he his telling her this over the phone, a woman is in the background screaming bloody murder as if she is being tortured and yelling “ Mom Please do what he says!” . Lots of emotion and yelling on the phone. My office manager panicked and hung up. She called the police and had them on the line when the man called back. The girl in the background is moaning and screaming, he is yelling he will kill her if he doesn’t get what he wants, and the cops are telling her it’s a scam, but given that 1) she doesn’t know the whereabouts of her kids and grandkids at that moment, and 2) the guy used her name, and 3) there is someone screaming as if she really is being murdered, it was all very stressful.
Ultimately she hung up and was able to reach out to confirm that all her family was safe and that it was a scam, but it left her an emotional wreck.
Given that the Equifax breach may have compromised some or all of our personal names and contact data, we should be aware that there are a lot of ways scammers will use that info. We should be very suspicious of contacts from the phone or internet. If you get a call like that one, just hang up and call the cops. Even better, use your caller ID religiously. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer the phone, and let them leave you a message. Most (but not all) of the junk calls will disappear.