Eric Day, Esq.
IRS Scammers: A Wolf Among the Sheep!
As information becomes more readily available, we, as a society are forced to endure those who would use that information to gain access to our most intimate details. As Francis Bacon, the 16th-century politician/author stated: "Opportunity makes a thief."
This can be likened to the old bedtime story "The Wolf and the Seven Lambs." In the story, a mother sheep left her seven lamb children at home while she went to get food for the family. Before leaving, she warned her lamb children of the dangerous wolf that lurked outside. She told them to never open the door for the wolf or they would be gobbled up. Sure enough, as the mother lamb left, the wolf took the opportunity to try to get into the house where the little lambs were patiently waiting. The first time the wolf came, the sheep recognized his scruffy voice and new instantly it was the wolf. Knowing that he had to change his voice somehow, the wolf placed butter in his mouth to make his voice soft and smooth. When he came to the door, the little lambs didn't recognize the wolf's scruffy voice, but still didn't trust their visitor so they asked to see his tail through the door. Obligingly, the wolf stuck his scruffy black tail through the door. Knowing this wasn't their mother's tail they sent the wolf packing again. Finally, the wolf disguised his tail to look fluffy, like cotton. When he approached the door, the sheep didn't recognize his voice and demanded to see his tail again. Sticking his newly created fluffy, cotton-like tail through the door, the sheep were convinced it was their mother and opened the door. Once the door was opened the wolf devoured six of the seven sheep.
The story eventually continues and the wolf gets his in the end, but let's focus on the wolf in the story and how he was able to gain the confidence of the sheep. An example of wolves within the flock transpired in a phone call I received last weekend. Initially, I ignored the call because, like the sheep, I didn't recognize the person's number on the other end. The individual "wolf" left a voicemail so I indulged the caller and listened. Much to my surprise, I owed the IRS a lot of money and because I had neglected to pay my taxes, there was a pending lawsuit in the works. To make things worse, the IRS had issued a non-bail arrest warrant with my name on it. But the caller left a way for me to get out of this mess. All I had to do was call the number that was left in the voicemail and my problems would go away. Sound familiar?
To the average person, this intrusion creates an overwhelming sense of horror. Because we were told we needed to act fast, we often will disregard all judgment and call the person back immediately because nobody wants a problem with the IRS. This is exactly what the "wolf" is waiting for. You see, he knows that for the most part, we as a society trust the government. The scammer "wolf" shields our eyes with a simple introduction that he is calling from the IRS and we reluctantly oblige.
If you were to call the number back, there will inevitably be a scammer on the other side indicating that you had failed to pay your taxes from a prior year. They will offer you a chance to pay the bill while you are the phone to avoid the impending lawsuit altogether. The problem is, half the time they will ask for payment to be made with a money order or some other form of payment that is difficult to trace. They will create background noise during the call (the bushy tail) to convince you that you have called an IRS call center. They even go as far as to use a number registered to the Washington D.C. area.
Unfortunately, many people have fallen prey to these wolves and have had their bank accounts devoured. But it doesn't have to be that way. Every taxpayer should have a reliable tax advisor they can call to foil the plans of the wolves. One who understands the IRS' systems and their collection processes.
With identity theft running rampant, I have received many calls from frantic clients asking for my representation. After listening to their experience, I ensured them this is a scam to get both their money and identity. I mean, how often on the Discovery channel to you see the lion warn the wildebeest before he attacks? Never, right? So then why would the IRS call to warn you that they were going to arrest you? They wouldn't.
When you receive these calls, don't fall victim to the wolves and end up losing money to IRS theft. The IRS has published some tax tips on their website of how to identify if the caller is a wolf or if it is an actual IRS agent.
They listed out five things that a bogus IRS caller will do that the ACTUAL IRS will not do. Those actions are:
- Call or demand that you pay them. In fact, they will never call you without first sending you a bill through the mail.
- Demand that you pay the taxes without first notifying you of your right as a taxpayer to appeal the amount in question.
- Require you to pay the tax due with a particular payment method. (i.e. Money Order, Prepaid Debit Card, etc.)
- Ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone. They will usually refer you to their website for payment.
- Threaten to bring in local police or law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
The IRS has also asked that we do our part to put a stop to these thieves and IRS theft. We can all report these incidents to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). They can be reached at 1.800.366.4484 or www.tigta.gov.
Additionally, you can file a complaint with the FTC using words "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes of the complaint. These measures will help curb IRS theft for everyone.
Let's face it; taxes can be complicated and often feel scary but it doesn't have to be that way. We, at Day & Associates are trained and experienced in tax planning and tax resolution. There isn't a tax problem that we can't help alleviate for you. When you don't know where to turn while the wolves are lurking outside your door, call us at 702-710-8233 or visit us at www.daytaxadvisors.com for more information. We look forward to helping you fight off the wolves.