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With Tax Season Underway, IRS Phone Scams Will Target Thousands of Americans

Posted on 04/06/18 by Joy Hepp, AARP Blog Author

Identity thieves and tax scammers typically begin targeting their victims during tax filing time, but more especially, after tax season when tax refunds are being paid out.  And that is why AARP California, The IRS Criminal Investigation Division and The AARP Fraud Watch Network invite you to join a live informative telephone town hall discussion on Thursday, April 12th, 2018, at 6:00 PM PT about simple ways we can protect ourselves from fraud and tax scams. This discussion will include special guest speakers from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. Sign up here!

Check out Elaine Cassidy’s firsthand tax scam experience.

“In hindsight, I probably should have ignored [the phone calls] them from the beginning,” Elaine Cassidy says.

In early 2016, 74-year-old Carson resident and AARP member Elaine Cassidy received a voicemail message on her home phone.  An urgent voice demanded that she return the call, saying she would face serious consequences if she failed to do so.

She called the number back and the person claimed to be a representative of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Cassidy provided her telephone number so that they could identify her. The voice then told her she owed federal taxes.

“If I did not immediately pay them, the speaker told me he would arrest, charge, and incarcerate me,” she said.

Several requests the caller made were red flags for Cassidy. The caller asked for her Social Security number and date of birth to verify her identity. She knew that if they were the IRS, they should already have access to such information.

Cassidy hung up the phone and looked up the official IRS telephone number. An IRS representative said the agency never calls individuals if they are behind on taxes. Letters are sent instead.

Certain it was fraud, Cassidy called back the number in hopes of obtaining the caller’s name. This time, the call was more suspicious. She could hear talking in the background. She told the caller how the IRS confirmed this was a scam.

The scammers got angrier, saying they were coming to her house to apprehend her.

“Okay, come and get me,” Cassidy said and hung up.

She continued to receive these calls every day that week and for the next six months. She contacted her telephone company and the police, who told her nothing could be done.

Cassidy called the scammers again and told them to remove her off their call list and to stop harassing her, but it continued up to twice a day for the next six months. Each time a new voice was behind the call, and it alternated a between man and woman.

“In hindsight, I probably should have ignored them from the beginning,” she said. She still receives the scam call once a month.

Cassidy spreads the word to friends in her retirement community to decline these calls and says five of her neighbors have successfully followed her advice.

Lastly, always remember this; the IRS will not call to demand immediate payment without first sending you a notification by mail. The IRS will not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, and will not threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment. If you have any doubts, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

For more information about this and other scams, visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network website, and sign up to receive free bi-weekly Watchdog Alerts, featuring information on current scams and prevention tips.  These alerts cover a variety of subjects including cyber scams, holiday and charity scams, weight loss scams, tax scams, romance scams and more.  Also visit our AARP Scam-Tracking Map, which features warnings from local law enforcement and first-hand accounts of breaking scams from people in your community.

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