Last week, one of our clients came close to being a victim of a sophisticated IRS impostor scam.  We wanted to summarize the experience so that our clients are aware and can better protect themselves.

The client got a voicemail from someone saying there was a warrant out for the client’s arrest for a persistent pattern of tax evasion.  The client was concerned and returned the call.  The client was put through to an “agent” who provided an ID number and spent 20 minutes outlining all of the “violations.”  The client said that D3 did his taxes, so the fake IRS agent put the client on hold while he pretended to call D3.  The fake IRS agent came back onto the call and said that Don Duncan was not in today (which was not true) and was put through to a “senior tax consultant,” by the name of someone who did not work for D3.  The “senior tax consultant” came onto the phone admitted that they made errors in the tax filing.  The fake IRS agent then said D3 will call the client to give appropriate advice.  The client then got a call from D3’s phone number and spoke to the fake tax consultant that does not work for D3 and said the client needs to convince the IRS to remove the warrant and pay the balance due instead.  The fake tax consultant then told the client he may not discuss the issue with D3 any further, and needs to withdraw $7,000 without telling D3 the purpose.  The client spoke again to the fake IRS agent, who advised the client to remain on the phone, and went to the bank to withdraw the money.  The client was then instructed where to bring the money, which were two strange locations in Chicago, and would be given further instructions at the location the client chose.  At this point, the client became very suspicious, ended the call, and called D3.  D3 filed a police report for the incident.

Scams are becoming more sophisticated each year.  It understandable how someone could fall victim to a scam where the caller ID matches D3’s number and multiple scammers are working together to pull it off.  Scammers will say anything to scare you into doing what they want.  If you ever receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, IT IS A SCAM.  The IRS will always send you an official letter if there is an issue with your tax filing, and we recommend sending us a copy of the letter to D3 to investigate further.  The IRS will also never threaten your arrest if you don’t pay a bill.

Be aware of the following rules of thumb when receiving strange calls:

  • Be cautious of caller ID, which is easily manipulated
  • Be careful of “deals” that are only good if you act immediately
  • Be suspicious of threats of arrest
  • Never give anyone sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers, or bank account information
  • Never pay up front for a promised prize or vacation package
  • Never send money if you are asked to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card or similar method

For further tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft, we recommend reading this article.  Additionally, we recommend registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry, which takes about one minute.  This will reduce the number of telemarketer calls you receive.

—Kirsten Simon MBA CFP®