Despite the fact that the IRS, Departments of Revenue of US states, and many tax resolution companies warned American taxpayers not to trust a person who calls you and requests to immediately pay off your tax debt, tax fraud continues to be a huge problem in the US.
A staff worker at the University of Wisconsin in Madison was recently affected by tax scammers who contacted him over the phone and threatened him with an arrest warrant and even departure from the country if he did not pay off his state tax debt immediately.
Following instructions from those who he believed were tax collection agents, a victim bought a pre-paid cash card and gave the card number to the person on the phone, thinking that he was paying off his tax liability. His first payment was $1,320, but this was not the end. Tax scammers, who stayed with the taxpayer on a phone the whole time, mentioned another $3,000 that had to be paid to clear off the debt. The taxpayer complied with this requirement, and ended up losing $4,320 to the tax scammers.
When the taxpayer realized what happened to him, he contacted the police, but was only able to provide the name that was used by the scammer. The tax criminal introduced himself as Jimmy Arthur, an employee of the “Federal Tax Department” (which should have immediately raised a red flag, because the scammer mentioned the state tax debt). There was also a woman involved who took the call when the victim agreed to make a full payment.
If you receive a phone call like that, keep in mind a few things that the IRS or your State would never do. First of all, the IRS or the State Department of Revenue does not call you out of the blue requesting to make a full payment. If you owe taxes, you will receive a number of letters with a breakdown of your tax liability, which would include all penalties and interest. These letters will have contact information for the IRS/State office that is assigned to your case. Because it is possible to forge the IRS/State letter, do some research before calling this number. You can use internet to make sure that this phone number really belongs to the government, or simply visit your local IRS office or the State Department of Revenue to confirm that this is a document that was issued by federal/state taxing authorities.
Another thing that the IRS or your State does not do is request any pre-paid cash cards. In addition, if the caller is yelling at you, threatening to arrest you, and is being disrespectful, this is a sign that you are talking to a tax scammer. All you have to do is to hang up and inform the IRS or your State taxing authorities.