Tax Phone Scam
Have you ever given your phone number out online only to get telemarketing calls later? Scam artists love it when they get your phone number, but don’t fall for their tricks. One common phone scam is to call and tell you that the IRS is after you.
For example, here is part of a machine generated voicemail I received on my cell phone just the other day:
“Tax filings from the headquarters which will get expired in the next 24 working hours. And once it get expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local cops as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you.”
Then the message listed a phone number to call. No matter what, don’t call back!
As a tax accountant, I can tell you that there are a few obvious problems with that message.
1. The IRS wouldn’t make a call like this. They always contact you by mail first. The first step the IRS would take is to send a letter asking for a document to support a claim on your tax return. By mail, not a phone call.
2. You can’t be arrested for tax problems until much further along in the process. You would be allowed to get a tax attorney to represent you before anything like that happened.
3. There are massive amounts of grammar issues in the recording which means that English is probably not the native language of the scam artist. This might indicate that the person is located in a foreign country just waiting to steal your money when you call them back.
Don’t call back!
Other Financial Scams to Watch Out For
There are plenty of people who do fall for phone scams and lose thousands of dollars. This happens to millions every year. $9.5 billion dollars was lost to phone scammers in the past year. Don’t let it happen to you.
Here are four other phone scams to watch out for:
- *72 Scam. A caller claims someone in your family died recently. Then the person tells you to call another number but to first dial *72. Don’t do this. Pushing *72 will transfer control of your phone calls to the other number. This way, the scammer can give your number out to friends all over the world to call him on your bill. *73 will remove the setting.
- Juror Scam. Some are getting calls claiming that they didn’t show up for jury duty. Then they ask for personal details to cancel the bench warrant. Others are just informing the person they have jury duty and asking for personal details. Never give out any people details over the phone, especially your social security number. You can always call the court to verify the validity of such a claim.
- Hitman Threat Scam. This one is a scary one. A person calls, claiming you will be the target of a contract killing unless you pay the hitman some huge amount of money. The guy claims to be watching you, and you aren’t allowed to call the police. Don’t fall for this one.
- Kidnap Scam. The caller claims to have kidnapped one of your family members and threatens to kill them if you pay the ransom. There is an easy way to prove that this isn’t true. Just call your family member and ask if they are OK. Then call the police and report the scam.
If you receive a phone call like these, you can get help from the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC website also has a link to join the Do Not Call Registry.
Protecting Your Identity
It’s a good idea to check your credit report regularly to make sure that no one has stolen your information. There are also companies that can monitor and help repair any identity theft that occurs. These services are expensive though, so I would only recommend one if you have room in your budget. In the future, I plan to do a post comparing and contrasting the credit monitoring services out there so you can make an educated decision if you are interested.
If you are looking for help to set up a budget, click here. Come back soon for more money management advice from a professional accountant, entrepreneur, and college instructor. I can teach you to prepare your taxes, start a business, budget, be frugal, make more money, save money, and so much more!
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