Tax Season Is Here…Tis the Season for the Fake IRS Agent Scam
By Gonzalo Macchi, Identity Theft, Consumer Finance, Collections, Family Law, Contracts, Landlord/Tenant issues, and Traffic Citations Attorney
Have you received a call from an unknown phone number claiming to be an IRS agent stating that if you don’t pay immediately, you will be arrested? Yes! Chances are that this is a scam! Fake IRS agents are not the only ones making their rounds of calls. There are also entire tribes of scammers (most likely unethical collectors) threatening to send a process server to arrest you or someone you love, unless of course you pay them Now! Below is a summary of these two popular scams and how to handle them:
SCAM 1 – The Fake IRS Agent. In this scam, the caller claims to be from the IRS and states that if you don’t pay the taxes you owe, you will be arrested. This popular scam becomes even more prevalent during tax season. Here are two basic points to consider:
- If you owe taxes, your CPA or tax preparer should have notified you that taxes are owed.
- Even if taxes are owed and past due, the IRS must follow a collection process which begins with mailing you a written notice, as opposed to a random phone call with the threat of arrest. The notice typically states how much is owed and will give you an opportunity to provide supporting documentation if you do not believe that you owe taxes. Regardless, you have rights and protections throughout the collection process.
SCAM 2 – The Process Server. This scam is similar to the IRS scam although the caller now claims to be a process server or to be sending a process server to your home or place of business. It essentially involves the same concept of threat of lawsuit or arrest if payment is not made immediately. Such a sudden threat can be alarming, especially if they are referring to a family member, but here are four points to reason:
- Even if you did owe money, typically you would receive collection notices prior to any lawsuit being filed.
- Moreover, you will not be arrested for a debt owed for loans or credit cards.
- Additionally, a licensed process server probably would not give you warning ahead of time to evade service of the lawsuit.
- If a lawsuit was filed, it should show up in the clerk of court’s records.
What can you do if you receive a phone call like the ones above?
First, you do not have to answer the call. Even if you do pick up your phone, tell the person who is calling to send you something in writing and hang up.
Second, notify the IRS, Federal Trade Commission, police, and State Attorney’s Office that you have received such a call.
If you are able to find out who did call and get their contact information, an attorney can send a cease and desist and debt verification letter on your behalf. An attorney can also check the clerk of court’s records for any pending lawsuits filed against you, if any.