Be Aware of IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams

November 17, 2017

Written by Kelly Inglhofer

Listen to the audio file below; this is an actual voicemail left on an MRA team member’s voicemail from an IRS imposter, which threatens legal action and arrest if “past due” tax debts are not paid immediately in cash!

This is real-life evidence of a scam which resulted in countless Americans forfeiting millions of dollars in order to avoid fraudulent charges. The recent increase in telephone scams from IRS impersonators is alarming. The more knowledgeable one has of the tactics used by scammers, the less likely he or she will become a victim.

Scammers prey on the fear of individuals who want to avoid legal action they presume to be valid. They seem real and convincing, often programming their phone numbers to show “IRS” on a victim’s caller ID. Victims are threatened with arrest, deportation, and a variety of other serious actions should they not cooperate. Scammers also urge victims to not contact any other tax authority until payment has been made, leaving the victim with minimal time and resources to assess the situation.

If approached, it is important to stay rational and calm in order to evaluate the likelihood that the call is fraudulent. One should also know that the IRS will NEVER:

  • 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.
  • call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method.
  • ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

These sophisticated scammers many times reference accurate personal information, that has been researched and validated by the scammers, to make their claims more viable. This is all the more reason to be extremely careful and protect your personal information that is publicly available on the internet.

In rare cases, the phone scammer may elicit one’s personal information by stating that the victim has a pending tax refund. Eager to receive the repayment, the victim provides the personal information requested, which further opens him or her up to theft risk.

Cyber-attack danger is expanding and evolving, which is why we must learn from these attempts and constantly adapt our protection strategies. As a registered investment advisor, we are committed to educating our clients on how to protect themselves from scams such as those discussed above.

For more information on tax scams, visit the IRS alert page: https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.