It's a phone call just about anyone would take seriously. You owe the IRS money and the agent on the line demands you pay it back immediately, otherwise they'll sue.
"Sometimes it would ring for a long period of time and I would get a disconnection," said 'Junior,' a Kansas City, Missouri, man. We are hiding his face and name out of his fear of identity theft. "I got a hold of a person and they asked if my number was right and I said, 'Yes.' They told me my name and I said, 'Yes, this is right.' They began to give me all of these code numbers they said referred to my IRS account. I'm like, 'What is going on?'"
What's going on is an old scam with a new a new spin. Fraudsters get your name and number. Then they call and call and call until you answer or call them back. They sound legit - so much so that hundreds of people across the nation are convinced to hand them thousands of dollars to make the harassment stop.
LISTEN: Watch the video below to hear a voicemail scammers have left people. (On a mobile device and can't see it? Watch it here.)
"They could barely speak English," said Junior. "That's what really made me mad was that someone from another country is trying to take our money from us here in America, and that is what really upset me."
RELATED: IRS phone scam hits Kansas City
41 Action News wanted to hear what these calls were all about. Unfortunately, by the time we called the con men who'd been bullying Junior for days, the number had already been disconnected, likely because the scammers use prepaid lines until they run out and then move on the next one - just like with their victims.
"At first it was the elderly, they were taking advantage of the elderly," said Junior. "Now they are taking advantage of any and everybody that they can to get a dollar from. There are some people who are actually giving their money to these people."
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you don’t owe taxes, here’s what you should do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 1-800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
- If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040. By email, the scam artists will try to entice people to click on official-looking links. Report these emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. If you feel that you have been the victim of an IRS impersonation scam, contact the above numbers.
Terra Hall can be reached at email@example.com.