We get a lot of questions from clients about inquiries from IRS. Seems that when someone gets a letter or notice from our favorite federal agency most people instinctively hit the panic button. Thieves have discovered America’s paranoia over the IRS and have learned a new trick to capitalize on it, apparently with some success. The scam goes like this:
You will get a series of phone calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. He tells you that you owe some amount, that it is long past due, and that he is here to help you resolve the matter. He will say that he is willing to work with you but if you do not work with him you will face serious consequences, including jail. He may even say that IRS agents are on their way to your home, or that this is your last chance to take care of the matter. If you do not answer the phone they leave messages with what appears to be a local call back number.
This is happening a lot here in So. Cal, but apparently it hasn’t caught on as much in other parts of the country yet. While I am getting calls from clients once a week over this, my colleagues in other cities have not even heard of it. Strange, because the callers usually have foreign accents and I assume they are calling in from outside the US, despite the local appearance of the source numbers.
Nobody is immune from this. My unlisted and blocked home phone number is on the national “Do not call” list, and I even got these calls at home. They left some very threatening messages!
To clarify, IRS will NEVER NEVER NEVER contact you by phone (or email) to initiate any kind of collection effort. If you owe them any money you will have received many letters explaining how much you owe before collection efforts get serious. In the rare event of a phone call from them it will only be after you have contacted them by phone and voluntarily given them your number. IRS never contacts taxpayers by email for collection purposes, period.
So, if you get one (or more) of these calls what do you do? You can take the number down and report it to the Phone Company, IRS, and police, but realistically, you are probably wasting your time as they get thousands of these complaints. Best suggestion is to ignore them and they will stop. Whatever you do, do not give them any information about you at all. They have your phone number, but that’s it. They have no access to anything else unless you give it to them, so don’t.
And if you are really feeling belligerent, you could have a bit of fun with it. Ask them what it’s like to live in Mumbai, or question their mother’s virtue. Use your imagination!