According to an article in The Times of Chester County, IRS and debt relief phone scams are on the rise. Phone scams come in variety of different forms, but often involve a foreign phone call placed to a target in the United States. After answering the phone there is generally a pause and maybe a click before a voice claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) comes on the line. The scammer often claims that you must immediately pay money to the IRS or else go to jail, lose your house, or face some other awful outcome. The Times reports that recent scams have been particularly successful because the fraudsters are “spoofing” a local number, or a Washington, D.C. number, so that the victim’s caller ID does not report that the call is in fact being placed from abroad.

This type of phone scam is on the rise, and The Times notes that even their newsroom was targeted recently. In an attempt to investigate the scam, a reporter from The Times called back after receiving a seemingly fraudulent phone message from “an IRS representative” claiming that if they did not call back they would be sent to jail. The reporter asked the suspected scammer a serious of questions about who they were representing and whether or not they were located in Newport Beach, California, as the caller ID had reported. The scammer told the paper that they were calling from Washington, D.C. and repeatedly claimed to be calling on behalf of the IRS and that failing to comply would result in jail time. When the reporter eventually identified himself as a reporter for The Times the scammer hung up and refused to pick up the phone when the reporter tried to call back. While it is not advisable for individuals to engage with suspected scammers as the reporter did, the steps that you should take if you receive a suspicious phone call about back taxes or debt relief offers are outlined below.

What to do if You Receive a Suspicious Call from the “IRS”

If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the IRS stay calm, do not be intimidated, and definitely do not give them any money. The first thing that you should do it hang up. Then, if you think that you may in fact owe back taxes call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 in order to work out your payment issue. However, if you believe that the phone call you received was a scam you should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. If you would like more information about how to report IRS related phone scams visit the IRS’s website.

Tips on How to Avoid Being Scammed

The Times notes that one way to avoid being scammed is to be aware that the IRS will never employ the following tax collection methods:

  • Calling about back taxes before sending a written notice,
  • Demanding that a taxpayer pays without the opportunity to appeal the amount owed,
  • Requiring taxpayers to pay using a specific payment method,
  • Asking for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, or
  • Threatening to have local law enforcement officers arrest you for not paying.

Need Legal Advice?

Owing money to the IRS is serious, however, there are legitimate debt relief option available to you. A good IRS relief lawyer can help you assess your options, determine if filing for bankruptcy is in your best interest, and possibly even negotiate with the IRS to reduce the amount that you owe. If you are struggling to pay back taxes and live in the Chicago Metropolitan Area contact the Bentz Holguin Law Firm, LLC today.