Have you heard about those IRS phone scams? No, it’s not what you’re thinking; not scams sponsored by the IRS. They are scams perpetrated by individuals posing as IRS personnel, and they have been more prevalent than ever in the past couple years. If you haven’t heard of them then maybe the IRS isn’t being aggressive enough with its public announcements and warnings. If you do know about these schemes then maybe you have pondered the questions “Who are these people that pay thousands of dollars to phony IRS agents? Can’t they tell it’s a scam? How can someone be so gullible?”
I have definitely had these kinds of thoughts, that is until reading the story of Halah Touryalai, staff writer for Forbes. She was recently contacted by one of these scam artists and almost fell for it. This is an expert on finance and investing; somebody who should probably know better. And even though she stopped short of doling out the $5,000 that they were demanding of her, they definitely had her going. This is somebody who has always paid her taxes and never had a reason to doubt herself. It only goes to show that if these scam artists call with enough urgency and authority in their voices, they can successfully dupe just about anybody.
Touryalai was told a whole host of lies on the phone that day:
- The IRS had launched an investigation against her
- She had attempted to defraud the government by not reporting all her income
- The IRS was going to get a warrant for her arrest
- The IRS was going to seize her property
- The IRS had already issued a bank levy to collect the tax debt
- The IRS had suspended her driver’s license and passport
- Her social security number had been “blacklisted”
- Somebody was waiting at her office to arrest her when she arrived
- She could avoid further action if she paid $4,900 within the next hour
Be careful out there! As long as you know how the real IRS operates, you’ll be fine. The IRS will never demand that you make payments over the phone. They will rarely contact taxpayers by phone without first sending notices by mail (and certainly not for a measly $4,900!).