How to Avoid Tax Scams

As a law abiding and tax paying citizen, my recent tax scam experience led me to believe I needed to write a blog post about what happened, in order to create awareness.

On my drive to work this morning, I received a call from the following number - 415-358-1647.  A man, with an Indian accent, said his name was Officer Steve Jones and he claimed to be an IRS officer.  When I asked him what the call was about, he said we need your attorney's information because you owe back taxes to the IRS.  Being completely caught off guard about owing any taxes, I asked him why this is the first time I'm hearing about this, and why hadn't the IRS send me something via the mail to inform me?  He went on to tell me that the letter was mailed to me but because it needed a signature for release, the USPS left a note on my door asking me to pick it up at their location.  Due to the fact that there had been two failed attempts, the IRS will now be issuing a warrant against me for unpaid back taxes, and a police officer was going to come by my house to arrest me.

At this point I got extremely inquisitive and I asked why I had never received anything in the mail, to which his replay was again, USPS tried to deliver something twice but you weren't at home, therefore your assets will be seized, credit cards blocked and banks accounts frozen.   So then, I asked what my total amount of back taxes were and for what years I had failed to pay, to which he replied $3989.42 for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.  He then mentioned that if I didn't pay the ~4k, then I would have to pay the back taxes, along with incurred legal fees for a total of $7,800.  When I asked him for a break down of the failed payments year by year, mostly becausse I couldn't believe H&R Block hadn't filed my taxes correctly, he could not give me a breakdown.  Instead, he said I needed to prepare to go to jail for 2 years and hung up on me.  I called them back to get a better understanding of the situation, and this time asked to speak to a manager.

Here's where things got even fishier.

After reciting the story, and why it didn't add up in my head, the manager offered me a different solution.  This time,  Officer Steven Rich, also with an Indian accent, told me that I had the option of paying right now in order to avoid any legal ramifications.  He said that I could go to a Target or Dollar Tree, and get a voucher from them to pay the amount owed with a confirmation number that he was going to give to me.  I have never paid the IRS through Target or the Dollar Tree, ever!  This is honestly where I lost my mind, and I had to hang up on them.

In an effort to spread education, I wanted to discuss the following points to offer clarification, and help someone else from getting spammed.

1. These douche ponies will ask you for your attorney's information as soon as you pick up the phone - Please do not share any personal information with them!
2. They will not be able to breakdown your payments over a multi year span. If they tell you, you owe back taxes for years 2012, 2013 and 2014 ask them to tell you how much you owe year by year.  Chances are, they will only be able to offer you the whole lump sum, or they will tell you how much you owe with attorney's fees.
3. If you're still not sure, ask what type of payment methods they accept.  I asked how I would proceed to make a payment, and they told me I would be using a Bill Pay service through Target or a Dollar Tree. (This is one of the biggest red flags! The IRS does not accept payments through Target or the Dollar Tree or any other convenience store near you.  You pay the IRS by check, credit, debit, money order or payment plans!)
4. The REAL phone number to the IRS support is 800-829-1040. When you call the IRS they will put you through an automated phone tree. Once you get to the end on the automated system, where you wait for a representative, an automated voice will tell you call volumes are at am all time high, and ask you to call again another day (basically they will hang up on you).
5. These fake effers will call you back using the IRS number 800-829-1040.  They have the capability of using software that mimics the IRS' number, and will ask you why you didn't call them back, and how you would like to move forward.  They are very tricky a-holes.  Do not respond back to the 800 number as the IRS does not call you back.
6. If, and when, you still have questions, feel free to contact your local post office asking if there were any deliveries you missed AND/OR contact your local police station to see if they have any outstanding warrants for you.  This will give you a better piece of mind.

I was clearly upset and in rage when dealing with these scammers this morning, but with a leveled head I was able to gather the above mentioned information.  I hope this post helps answer any pending questions you may have when it comes to unknown calls.  

Stay weary my friends,

Published by Vaishali Rana

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