— -- Dear ABC News Fixer: I have been receiving calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money from me.
On some occasions, I have actually confronted the impersonator, but most times, I just let the phone ring.
The other day they left two messages, this time using a female computer-generated voice. I called back and got the same guy that always answers and I ripped into him. He started using every expletive in the book, claiming that I should "call the FBI" and saying that he's not scared of anyone.
Please let people know about this huge scam.
- Joshua Suri, Westfield, N.J.
Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.
Dear Joshua: You told the ABC News Fixer that the caller claimed this was a “critical” tax issue and that the IRS would be taking legal action against you.
It’s a good thing you could see this was a scam. Many others have fallen victim to the “fake IRS agent” con, which has been around for ages but has seen a resurgence, thanks to technology that allows the scammers to spoof U.S. areas codes like Washington, D.C.’s (202) code and fool people into thinking they are the subject of a real IRS audit.
IRS spokesman Eric Smith said the calls have been a problem all year, and the agency is trying to get the word out about the scam. “The main thing is that if people owe the IRS money, they would have received a bill from us. That’s the key. It’s not our practice to tell someone they owe money through a phone call,” Smith said.
The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration has received reports of more than 20,000 such scam calls and says thousands of victims have together lost more than a million dollars. Besides threatening people with legal action, the scammers have scared victims with threats of arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.
Interestingly, your letter to The Fixer came just four days after a colleague, a producer at ABC News, reported getting a similar call from a “Mary Jones,” who identified herself as an IRS agent and said that this colleague had been spot audited and found to owe $9,986 in unpaid taxes.
The fake agent, calling from a (202) area code, claimed that a letter had been sent on Sept. 17, and if this person didn’t settle up, the federal government would take him to court.
Our colleague believed it, until they said he had only 45 minutes to decide whether to wire the money. That’s when he got suspicious and called his accountant, who confirmed it was a scam.
Smith said IRS agents will never ask a consumer for their bank account PIN or to wire money or send a preloaded debit card.If you get a scam call from a fake IRS agent, you can report it online HERE or by calling (800) 366-4484.
You can forward any suspected IRS scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. But don’t click on any links or attachments. You never know what surprises they might contain.
-The ABC News Fixer