17 Feb BEWARE OF SCAMMERS ATTEMPTING TO “CASH IN” ON YOUR IRS FEARS
I am sitting in my office one day last week when suddenly a client rushes into the office, cell phone pressed against his ear, wildly waving his other hand, wearing a look of abject terror on his face. Once he finishes the call, he tells me that he has just received a phone call from a person purporting to be with the IRS seeking to collect on a supposed tax deficiency.
Compounding his fears, the caller claimed that unless a payment of $4500 was made within the next several hours, all sorts of dire consequences would cascade on his head, including the threat of arrest.
After calming the client down, I questioned him about his tax payment status. The client advised that he was not aware of any supposedly unpaid tax liability and, in fact, was in the process of preparing and finalizing his 2013 return. It did not seem likely that, in this particular case, the threat of arrest was a valid threat.
Immediately, I suspected that this might simply be a scam; as much as we all are aware of the “iron fist” of the IRS, the reality is a typical phone call from your friendly IRS representative is usually an effort to obtain payment of an amount supposedly due, like any other collection agency. In this case, the threat of arrest set this apart from what otherwise might have been a typical IRS collection effort.
The client contacted the IRS directly to ascertain that there was not any outstanding lien (there was not) and, after relating the story to the IRS agent, the client was referred to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration hotline to report this clearly fraudulent attempt by a scammer to capitalize on everyone’s innate fear of the IRS.
My advice to you is that if you receive such a phone call, do not panic. Initially, ask the caller for any identification (usually legitimate callers from the IRS will have an identification number), request that you are provided a number to call them back, and then immediately seek the assistance of counsel, or make an inquiry to your local IRS office to attempt to confirm the allegations.
Remember, time is on YOUR side; don’t make any hasty decisions to give personal information simply to get them off the phone and avoid the alleged dire consequences. These scam artists attempt to capitalize on your fears, and will make all sorts of threats about immediate punishments if you do not provide that information to them over the phone in an effort to compel you to pay immediately.
In addition, if you have received such a phone call, or are faced with such a call in the future, do not hesitate to call the Inspector General’s fraud hotline: 1–800–366–4484, or get additional information from the Inspector General’s website: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report.shtml.
This blog post is not considered to be legal advice, and is intended for educational purposes only. For more information regarding any of the issues discussed above, please contact Robert F. Schillberg, Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org).