You may have heard of the IRS scams that have been flooding the phone lines of our country recently. You may have even received a few at home. If you haven’t, consider this your warning. More and more of these types of phone calls have been reported, even though many arrests have already been made. Here is some useful information for you to consider in the event this happens to you or a loved one.
What do the phone calls sound like?
Most of the calls are quite similar. They will call you, usually from a Washington, D.C. area code and claim that you owe the IRS money. They will state that if you do not pay immediately they will dispatch a police officer to your home to arrest you. This type of scare tactic has worked on many people resulting in an estimated 5700 victims of this scam so far.
Once they have convinced you that you need to pay (generally around $2000), they will start walking you through the method of payment. This usually involves MoneyGram, Western Union, Green Dot Money Pak card, or even iTunes gift cards. If they require a gift card, they will then have you read the numbers on the card to them and collect payment. To date an estimated $31 million dollars has been paid to these scammers.
Who are they?
These criminals are believed to mainly be from India. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prosecuted several telemarketers a few years back that used the same tactics for scamming U.S. citizens. In October 2016, charges were announced against 56 people within the U.S. and 5 call centers in India. The Indian headquarters recruits U.S. residents to collect the money initially and then send it overseas. In addition to the charges the FTC has pressed, 9 call centers were also raided in India resulting in 70 arrests. With several investigations under way, the hopes are that these scams will cease, but continue to keep vigilant about who you give personal information or money to.
What can I do?
Educate your friends and family and warn them to not fall for these bogus IRS calls. The IRS assures us that they will NEVER call and demand payment over the phone. The IRS uses the mail to notify individuals for collection purposes. It’s a smart idea to never give payment over the phone to someone that calls you and to always request something in writing to be sent to you before proceeding further.
If you receive one of these calls contact the TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General) and fill out their online complaint form.
If you believe you may be a victim of these scams and already sent payment, contact the service you used below. They have the ability to track down the contact who received payment and report that information to authorities.
Western Union – 1-800-448-1492 https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/file-complaint.html
MoneyGram – 1-800-926-9400 http://global.moneygram.com/nl/en/how-to-report-a-problem
Green Dot. – 1-866-795-7597 https://www.greendot.com/greendot/account/contact-us