Just the other day, I was out to lunch with a good friend of mine when she received a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize. She had been waiting for a call back from a job interview, so she answered the call thinking she was going to hear some good news. I could only hear her end of the conversation, but I could tell that she was not receiving the good news she had hoped for. As I sat there, thinking about things I could say to console her after not landing the job, I watched her become very distraught. She was on the phone for several minutes, and had grabbed a pen from her purse and was frantically jotting down some information. Once she got of the phone, she was in tears so it took her a few minutes to tell me what was going on.
Apparently, the person on the phone was an IRS agent who claimed that my friend owed thousands of dollars in back taxes and if she didn’t put the money on a prepaid debit card and call them back with the number, she was going to be arrested and her license would be revoked. My friend was frantically grabbing her purse and other belongings and said we had to leave immediately, that she only had an hour to get back to them with the debit card number.
As we were riding to the bank, I kept telling myself that something didn’t seem right about this. I know the IRS wants our money, but would they really only give you an hour to go get a prepaid debit card to pay them? My friend didn’t even know she owed back taxes. She says she has always received a refund when she filed because she had paid too many taxes over the years.
So I decided to search the web to see if I could find out what was going on. The first thing that popped up was an article discussing how there are rings of scammers who have been posing as IRS agents for the past two years, threatening and scaring taxpayers into making an immediate payment on the phone to pay a bogus debt. There is another phone scam where the caller says they are from the IRS and need to verify some of the information that they received on their tax return, requesting personal information such as social security numbers and bank account numbers.
I called the IRS to ask them if they knew about these scams and they stated that they had caught a number of these criminals but that there were still a great deal of them out there. So if you ever get a phone call from someone stating they work for the IRS, do not give them any information. The IRS will always send you a letter stating that you owe money before they call and demand you pay it within an hour. They’ll never have you arrested or revoke your license if you don’t pay them immediately, and they’ll never ask you for personal information like your social security number over the phone. So if you receive a fishy phone call like this, just hang up on these crooks and don’t let them try to scam you!