There are a great variety of financial fraud schemes. One of the most common in recent years is that you will receive a call from someone who claims to represent the IRS. They will tell you that you owe taxes either as a result of a recent review of your tax filing or from an alleged tax fraud on your part. They will encourage you to pay immediately by giving them your bank information or a debit/credit card number. By paying immediately you will avoid additional penalties and/or possible criminal charges. They can be quite aggressive by saying that your accounts will be frozen, property seized or subjected to immediate arrest.
I recently received a call that seems to be some variant of this scheme. It was a voicemail left by a “caller” that was not a live human voice but a synthesized voice, possibly from text to speech. I have transcribed the details of the message left for me which follows:
8146 The nature and the purpose of this call is regarding an enforcement action which has been executed by the US Treasury Department regarding a tax fraud against your name. Ignoring this will be an intentional attempt to avoid initial appearance before a magistrate judge or a grand jury for a federal criminal offense. So before this matter goes to federal claims court house or before you get arrested kindly call us back on our number as soon as possible. The number to reach us is 281-226-9001. Let me repeat the number it is 281-226-9001. Hope to hear from you soon before the charges are pressed against you. Thanks.
I have no idea what the significance of the number at the beginning might be, it was the first part of the message. There was no identification given for who was calling or the agency being represented. Simply the message references an enforcement action by the Treasury Department. I did not call the number provided.
The most important thing to know about this type of scam is that the IRS does not contact taxpayers in this manner. If there is some issue, the first action is to send you a letter giving the details of whatever they wish to bring to your attention. Clearly, the fraudster’s intent is to jolt you into calling them by using terms to shock you like, “federal criminal offense”, “grand jury” and “enforcement action”.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these calls, it is important to take a breath and consider that you are getting an unsolicited call from someone without context. You are not going to be arrested. If you have any doubts, call the IRS and ask if they have any record of taxes owed or other issues alleged by the caller and explain to them about the call you received.