Despite having warned taxpayers over and over that the IRS does not and will not call you and demand you wire over some cash, apparently some people are still falling for this. So much so that TIGTA felt compelled to send out a friendly reminder:
The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) today issued a warning to taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to defraud them.
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. George noted that TIGTA has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.
“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” he said. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals,” George said, adding, “Do not become a victim.”
I linked to this in Footnotes awhile back but now might be a good time to read Forbes writer Halah Touryalai's firsthand account of one such phone call. This isn't like your grandma thinking she's the sole beneficiary of a deceased Nigerian prince's fortune, it's a little more serious-er:
I was almost arrested this morning. My assets were nearly seized. My passport and drivers license were about to be suspended. That’s what the voice on the other end of my cellphone was explaining while I was on my way to work.
It began after Brian Cruz called my house early this morning. He left his telephone number, name and noted he was calling from the IRS.
I put the number in my cell phone without searching for it online first. It had a 202 area code. It had to be official, right?
Yeah, I'm sure the firm PR departments I ambush with my annoying phone calls feel the same way. "DAMNIT she called from a 202 number, I thought it might be the president or something!"
After he confirmed my home telephone number, he stated that I’d attempted to defraud the IRS, and that the government was now taking legal action against me including issuing a warrant for my arrest within the next hour. When I asked what this was all about, he asked if I aware of an investigation against me. “I have no clue about an investigation. This is the first time I’m hearing about any of this,” I said in a panic.
He asked if I had a lawyer, and then told me about the investigation. “Do not interrupt me while I speak. Ask your questions after I’m finished,” he said.
Crazy, right? I'd bug out too if some rando claiming to be from the IRS spoke to me like that.
Anyway, pass this along to every gullible sucker you know so TIGTA doesn't have to waste their time reminding the rest of us things we already know and can focus on more important matters like figuring out creative ways to dodge Darrell Issa's phone calls.