IRS Phone Scam
This is the time of year when everyone is planning for the big upcoming tax day. This is especially true for REALTORS® of whom the vast majority are independent contractors. It is critically important that all records are maintained and reported accurately. If you feel like me, all of the information must perfect. Expense receipts should be in order, driving records archived and 1099’s delivered appropriately. That is why when I recently received what was reported as a phone call from the IRS that my concern and caution was elevated.
The person on the phone reported himself to be an officer with the Internal Revenue Department. They claimed that a legal case had been filed against me at the federal level for tax violations between the years of 2008 and 2013. This was very concerning because that was the year that I was licensed as a REALTOR® and probably one of the worst years for record keeping; I didn’t know what I was doing! They immediately had my attention and the person on the other line knew it.
This call came in while I was driving in the car so I immediately pulled over into the nearest parking lot to take notes. The person on the other end of the phone was claiming to be an IRS agent. They gave me a case number as well as their badge number. They claimed that the IRS had tried to serve me papers at an old address, which was my address for at least some of the timeframe reported. They claimed that because I wasn’t available to be served papers that the case had been elevated and would soon be going to court for tax fraud, which I was informed is a criminal prosecution. This was very shocking information to hear on a Tuesday afternoon while driving to a real estate appointment!
The person on the other line was an obviously following a very involved and detailed script. It sounded like they knew their lines better than a Tim Ferry prodigy, and I was falling for it. However, I wasn’t going to pay anyone anything without written documentation or some sort of confirmation to be evaluated by my accountant. The person on the phone began to lay on the pressure telling me the phone conversation was being recorded that the information gathered would be used in court. This individual kept asking me leading questions that helped direct me towards their payment options. Some of the questions included, “Did you do this on purpose or was it an accident?” Well of course I didn’t do it on purpose and surely it was all a big mistake. They wanted over $6000 from me and it seemed like they wanted to extract it right there!
Finally I got enough breathing room from the caller who was trying to transfer me to their payment department to conference in my accountant, who happens to also be my father. By the time I heard his voice I had melted down into a complete basket case. I was so confused that I was crying hysterically (in my car on the side of the road). When my father (my accountant) could finally understand what I was saying he informed me that this was all a big scam. However, the caller had me so fully down the rabbit hole that it was hard to feel safe enough to let go. The person came back onto the line and my father’s voice rang through the phone. He told them in no uncertain words where they could go, and it wasn’t anywhere with his daughter’s money!
Luckily for me my accountant is also my father and was available for me at the drop of a hat or I might have fell victim to the pressure of this person on the other line. It’s crazy too because now that I think about it I remember hearing that the IRS never calls citizens, they always write letters. But in that moment as I was driving in my car, focused on my destination, the traffic, etc. I forgot about what I had heard and went along with the caller.
Shortly after the conversation between the caller, myself and my father I posted the experience on Facebook. I wanted to warn my friends about the experience to get the word out and help others to avoid becoming victims of this scam. Many people responded to the post online saying that this happened to them as well, and others said that they hadn’t heard about it before at all. It was terrifying to be a recipient of the call, and even scarier to see how many others had already received this scam before me. Then there were the people who didn’t know about it at all; which is why I’m writing this blog post today.
Remember, the IRS will never call you. They do not have the manpower available to call individual citizens. If they have a problem you will receive a letter. Never will someone from a call center be instructed to give you such a threatening and demanding conversation. I can only imagine how a lonely, elderly individual might feel when receiving this threatening phone call. Please use this post to protect yourself as well as your family. If you have been a victim to this type of scam, post below so that your experience might help someone else avoid this fraud in the future.
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