IRS Phone Scams

Peter VanderWoude, CPA, CGMA

May 1, 2016

Have you recently received a set of telephone calls  purportedly from the IRS that worried you? If you called the phone number left as part of those messages, you probably spoke with a scammer who told you that you have a tax bill overdue and if you don’t pay it immediately then two Revenue Agents will be at your door in short order!

If this happened to you and you found the person on the line to be convincing, you were probably shocked that you apparently owe money to the IRS that you did not know about. You may have also called your tax preparer some choice names.

Let me be very clear. If you have a problem with the Internal Revenue Service, they will not call you. Instead, the IRS will mail tax notices to you—many of them if you don’t respond—which you should share with your tax advisor.

We live in an era of phone service where English-speaking sociopaths from half way around the world can call you with United States-based area codes. Americans tend to have three characteristics these scammers exploit: we are generally trusting, we have accessible money and we are afraid of running afoul of the IRS!

These scammers will use phone banks to robo-call masses of people with a recorded message. If you call back the phone number mentioned in the message an English-speaking conartist who has basic contact information on you will answer. If you fall for their ploy and send money, you just made a scammer’s day.

A year ago, I received similar messages on my voicemail that I was under an IRS audit. Knowing better and having seen phishing scams on the Internet for many years, I am jaded enough to see or hear the telltale signs of a con. That these cons are still going on means that enough people fall for these ploys that it is profitable for the scammers to continue them.

What should you do if you receive such a call or message? Ignore it and tell your family and friends to do so as well. If you get an IRS notice in the mail, share it with your tax advisor and they will handle it or advise you how to do so.

No worries! Relax and rest assured that all is well. Enjoy our beautiful spring season!

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