If the IRS calls and threatens you about unpaid taxes and penalties, hang up. It’s not really the IRS.
Tavis Schriefer, CEO of Telecalm, is an expert on phone scammers and how they operate. “They go after older people specifically,” he says, “because they know that they can get them frustrated quicker and hopefully get to a credit card number easier.”
For starters, if you still receive your W-2 by mail, Schriefer advises you to get it out of the mailbox before anybody else does. And if somebody claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service calls, he advises, “Keep in mind that the IRS does not send emails, they don’t talk to you via social media, and they don’t call you unsolicited on the phone and make threats to you.”
A clever scammer will often set up a phone with a false 202 D.C. area code, even if he’s calling from overseas. “They spoof the caller ID, is what it’s called, and they put a fake caller ID,” Schriefer notes. “And they can even change the caller name so that it will come up as the IRS.”
Once you hang up on the scammer, Schiefer advises who you should call next. “You can call the Better Business Bureau and report it,” he says. “You can also call the Treasury Inspector General’s office at 800-366-4484 to report it, or you can file it with the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, at ftc.gov.” Whatever you do, don’t send a supposed IRS caller any money or give out any PIN codes.