I decided to play along, knowing I would never give these scammers any information. So I called the number, and a person answered. "Hello, IRS," he said. I laughed into the phone and gave him a few choice words that cannot be repeated here. I called back an hour later, and this time I got a recorded message stating that I had reached the IRS.
I started going through a menu of options and was actually transferred to a call center where a man began discussing my "case file" so he could help me avoid a lien being placed on my assets. I asked whom I was speaking with and also pointed out he had no idea whom he was talking to, because he never even asked my name — so how could he possibly know my "case file"?
Without hesitation, he asked me to give him my Social Security number so we could verify it with the one in my "case file." I questioned how the IRS can demand that I pay taxes without giving me the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say that I owe. I then asked him for his name and his IRS identification number. I was disconnected.
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I contacted the IRS about the unsolicited call from the scammer who left the threatening message. The IRS representative said that, despite warnings, people still readily give out personal data and fall into the traps of these scammers.
To that point, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports that more than 10,000 victims have collectively paid in excess of $54 million as a result of phone scams since October 2013.
So while it may seem obvious, here goes: Never, ever give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who calls you, claiming to be from the IRS.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that IRS impersonation scams continue year-round and that they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike. These scammers will be aggressive and use threatening phone calls while impersonating IRS agents, and the scams remain a major threat to taxpayers.