THE ABC NEWS FIXER— -- Dear ABC News Fixer: Some person has been calling and leaving messages saying I’m getting sued by the Internal Revenue Service.
I called back and someone with a heavily-accented voice picked up. I confronted him and told him the IRS doesn’t call people; they send a letter if they’re taking any action. He claimed he had already sent me two letters.
I’ve submitted a complaint to the IRS about the calls, but the scammer already has my name and phone number. What else can I do?
- Jose G., Ashley, Pa.
Dear Jose: First, good work seeing this scam for what it is. Lots of others have fallen for it. The feds estimate the “fake IRS agent” scam has already stolen more than $36 million from U.S. victims. The latest iteration of the scam involves robocalls with urgent requests to call back about settling a tax bill. Victims are told that if they don’t pay up immediately, they’ll face a court case and possibly arrest, the loss of their driver’s license or even deportation.
As you’ve figured out, these scammers are often based overseas. They use the Internet to manipulate what you see on your caller ID. You told us you got a call that appeared to be from the 202 area code, which is pretty common for this scam (202, of course, being the area code for Washington, D.C.).
As for other steps you can take, here’s some advice:
- Stop calling them back. Once they know a warm body exists on the other end of the phone line, your number will be sold and resold to any number of con artists. So resist the temptation to pick up or call back.
- Temporarily turn off your voice mail. After a couple weeks, the calls should decrease dramatically.
- Consider call-blocking. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last month called on telecommunications companies to provide free call-blocking and help prevent spoofing. Until then, there are call-blocking services you can buy when scam calls overwhelm your phone.
- The ABC News Fixer