Some IRS scam artists are using bolder techniques to get their hands on taxpayers’ personal and financial information. Emails are very common; we have seen many phony IRS email campaigns over the years. Deceptive mailers are also prevalent, many of them rising to the level of what I would call a scam. Far less common is a direct phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS employee, but there has been somewhat of an outbreak of these recently.
Blogger and tax attorney, Kelly Phillips Erb, reported that one of her clients recently got a call from somebody claiming to be from the IRS. It is Erb’s opinion that IRS scammers are taking advantage of the government shutdown; they feel emboldened by the fact that victims can’t very well call the IRS right now to report them. A local news source in Minnesota has also recognized an uptick in IRS phone scams, although I don’t agree with them that the test for identifying a phony IRS call is a thick accent. I have also been informed of a couple IRS phone scams close to home (or perhaps the same one?), one from a client and one from a concerned taxpayer. The latter was told that the IRS was going to come to his place of employment to arrest him.
Not to get too psychoanalytic or anything, but phony IRS phone calls takes the deception to a whole new level. Granted, if somebody is tricked into giving up their social security number or credit card number, to them it doesn’t matter if it occurred in an email or over the phone. The result is the same either way. However, I do feel like it takes a different type of criminal to be bold enough to swindle somebody in a one-on-one situation. An email campaign is so impersonal; a criminal can reach thousands of people with a couple clicks of a mouse. But in a successful phone scam, the criminal needs to utter multiple lies to multiple victims. It just seems like a much bolder form of tax scam and hopefully it is not a sign of things to come.