Getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is very frightening to most people.  What could be worse is getting a phone call from an IRS agent.  Well, that is exactly what happened to my husband and me last weekend.

Tony and I had gone away for the weekend and returned after a relaxing stay in Punta Gorda.  Upon arrival at home, Tony picked up the voice mail on our phone as he always does.  He came rushing into the kitchen and said, “you need to come hear this right away.”  There was a voice mail from a man claiming to be from the IRS.  He said that he had a very serious matter to discuss with me, and that I needed to contact them right away or suffer serious consequences.  He also suggested that I might want to have my attorney call them.  He had my full name including my middle initial.

Fortunately, I am a Certified Public Accountant, and I regularly receive emails from the IRS warning of scams that are going on.  Even though I am knowledgeable of these types of scams, I have to admit that my blood pressure was definitely up after listening to the voice mail message.  Once I calmed myself down, I was able to calm Tony down and explain to him that this was nothing more than a scam.

I went back to the IRS article that I had recently read about Phone Scams.  Here are some tips that will help you if this happens to you.

  1. The IRS will ALWAYS contact you by MAIL if you owe taxes or are due a refund.
  2. The IRS will NEVER make the first contact with you by phone.  The only time I have had them call me by phone is when I have contacted them first and they are returning a call from me.
  3. The IRS will NEVER ask for credit, debit or prepaid card information over the phone.  In fact, the IRS does not take credit or debit card payments directly.  They have outsourced this to several credit card companies
  4. The IRS NEVER insists that you use specific payment method (such as credit or debit card) to pay your taxes.
  5. The IRS NEVER requests immediate payment over the phone.
  6. The IRS will always treat you professionally and courteously.

If these scammers happen to get you on the phone, they will be aggressive and often are hostile and abusive.  They will insist that you pay immediately using a debit or credit card.  They may have your full name and the last 4 digits of your social security number.  They often threaten victims with jail time or loss of driver’s license.

If you get one of these calls, let the caller know that you will contact the IRS directly or your tax preparer and then HANG UP.  If someone calls back posing as a the local police, repeat the process by letting them know you will contact the local police department directly, then HANG UP and call the police immediately.

Article Written by Reba Rogers.  Reba Rogers, CPA, is the founder of CPA Secure Aging, a group of care managers who preserve the independence and protect the assets of seniors by helping them with financial management.


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