Thursday, April 23, 2015

I got tele-scammed

The other day, my mobile rang.

I was in a meeting, so I just sent the call to voicemail.

Later, I listened to the voicemail. A robotic voice droned:

Hello. We have been trying to reach you. This call is officially a final notice from IRS, Internal Revenue Services. The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately on our department number NNN NNN NNNN.

It was chilling. Lawsuits? The IRS is filing a lawsuit against me?

But something about the call didn't sound right.

Well, actually, MANY things about the call didn't sound right:

  • It was a robot, not a person
  • It didn't greet me by name
  • It was full of awkward, incorrect English ("Internal Revenue Services"?!!)

Something clicked in my brain and I remembered reading something last fall: Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Unveils New Video to Warn Taxpayers.

The new Tax Scams video describes some basic tips to help protect taxpayers from tax scams.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Yep, that matched, quite well.

A nice article at the South Bend Tribune was helpful, too, as it even included the same fake phone number that had appeared on my phone. Credit 'charge' appears very real

I have repeatedly written about IRS scam telephone calls but I am doing so again as your BBB continues to receive many questions from area residents who are concerned about receiving such calls. Caller IDs are showing all kinds of phone numbers, which pretty much indicates the numbers are being spoofed. Some have reported their Caller ID shows 585-310-3870, 725-422-5697 and 726-597-6584, but the IRS impersonator provides different numbers on the message.

Most recipients are being told “this is your final notice from the IRS” and “a lawsuit is being filed against you for failure to pay taxes.” Some are saying if the taxes are not paid at once, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and the police will be coming after you. Consumers are then told taxes must be paid “immediately.” Instructions are given to wire the money via Western Union or get an advance cash card such as Green Dot MoneyPak from your local drugstore or retailer namely Wal-Mart, Kmart or Target.

I read about lots of scary, annoying stuff, but rarely do I actually get one of these myself.

In a weird way, it was good to get one; it kind of was a tune-up, a practice exam, a drill.

A good reminder that it's a strange world out there, and you should stay on your toes and not fall for the nasty scam.

Oh, and yes: I simply deleted the voicemail (though I did file a complaint on the FTC's website for reporting telescams, and I did re-check that my phone is on the do-not-call list, which it has been for years).

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