“You better stay on the phone, or we will send the sheriff to arrest you.”
The caller, who claims to be an IRS “officer,” tells you that you owe money. If you don’t stay on the phone while you drive to the store to pick up gift cards as payment, you’re going to jail.
Or that’s how the most common version of the IRS scam goes.
Frequently based in India, these scammers can look official when calling. They might even fool your Caller ID by spoofing, or faking, real IRS contact information.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), most scams are phone-based, but it’s also important to know that the IRS won’t send an email, text or direct message with threats or demands to pay. Even if you owe taxes, the IRS – or any collection service pursuing payments on behalf of the IRS – will never ask for payment over the phone.
Before anyone calls you, you should receive at least two communications by mail: one from the IRS, followed by one from the debt collector. No one from the IRS or its debt collectors will threaten to arrest you.
Source: KHOU11 (CBS, Houston)
As you can see, scammers can hit anyone. So what should you do if one reaches out to you?
The FTC offers the following advice:
- If you’ve gotten a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you’ve not been notified by mail about your account being placed for collection, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
- Don’t press any numbers when receiving a robocall.
- Don’t click any links in an email, text or direct message.
For more, watch this video from the FTC: