Over the last few years, we’ve warned about a lot of imposter scams. In one of the most common types, callers pretending to be from the IRS demand payments and threaten to arrest people.
Last fall, we mentioned raids on illegal telemarketing operations by the police in India. After that, the US Department of Justice indicted dozens of scammers who also were impersonating the IRS. After those actions, the number of IRS imposter scams reported to the FTC plummeted. On Tuesday, the New York Times ran a behind-the-scenes look at the call centers and the raids that took them down. It’s a great reminder that scammers are organized, and they’re really good liars.
Here are four things that can help you avoid telephone scammers:
- The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will the IRS call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill. If you get a live or pre-recorded call claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment right away, hang up. If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, you can call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040 to explore your options.
- Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers can make caller ID look like anyone is calling: the IRS, a business or government office…even your own phone number. If they tell you to pay money for any reason, or ask for your financial account numbers, hang up. If you think the caller might be legitimate, call back to a number you know is genuine – not the number the caller gave you.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you pick up the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up money or information, talk to someone you trust. Scammers want you to make decisions in a hurry. Slow down, check out the story, search online – or just tell a friend.