With no known exceptions, sending notices (by e-mail or telephone) from the Internal Revenue Service or law enforcement agencies (Police, Sheriff, Constables, Justice of the Peace, State Police, Highway Patrol, etc.) or courts is a scam used by The Bad Guys.
YOUR BIG TAKEAWAY:
Government legal notices provide detail and are normally specific, not vague.
Orders to attend a court will include address, date, time and Court Name.
Fines and Fees will provide details on why and how to make payment.
Don't let The Bad Guys get you goin' crazy or doin' dumb stuff to make their day!
From the "US Treasury": a notice about your problem
You may report such calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800 366-4484 or at www.TIGTA.gov You may request being a Confidential Informant.
From the IRS webpage listed below, such calls appear to be a "cottage industry" from the number of different scams. Resources available to you include:
- YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/user/irsvideos
- Tumblr video: http://internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com/
IRS recommends searching "scam" for all scam-related posts.
While reports indicate this involves people of different ethnic groups, the message does vary and has included open threats against callers. There are suggestions this group may not be from within the United States from the incorrect use of Agency Names and legal process. There is no indication the telephone companies or government agencies have been involved despite telephone threats.
Below is a message left on one answering machine:
"Hi. This message is intended to call back to you. My name is Dennis Gray and I am calling about an enforcement action executed by the U.S. Treasury intending to get your attention. Ignoring this will be an intentional intent to avoid to a.void an appearance before a Magistrate Judge on or about two weeks for a Federal Criminal Offense. My number is 682 498-5024. I repeat 682 498-5024. I would like you to cooperate with us and help us to help you. Thank you."
Reports indicate various dialects and making various threats to those who returned the calls. The outbound message varies by caller as an additional indicator of organized criminal activity. Some reports indicate the caller had your name in their records. One report included threats of a bomb and threats of involving the Police, and a Grand Jury.
Demands, from one source, are reported to be up to $20,000 due for prior year tax returns.
Reverse look-ups on the phone number indicate the call(s) are from Cleburne, TX (south of Ft. Worth) or Granbury, TX (southwest of Ft. Worth reportedly on the ) ... both small towns and very unusual for calls to be made by any agency of the US Government. According to www.CallerCenter.com, the 498 exchange is managed by 1STEL, INC in Texas on switch CLBNTXCIDS0.
For "the IRS"
The Internal Revenue Service does not call companies or individuals regarding notices or inquiries. They will send, as required by law using the US Postal Service, often a computer generated multi-page letter to the company or person(s) at the address of the tax filing being questioned. There is often a case, inquiry or other number provided with the letter.
You should contact the IRS using published telephone numbers for the IRS if:
- the listed business is no longer at that location so that you can bring your
involvement to a quick end in this matter,
- some or none of the persons listed were at that location for the Tax Year
indicated so you can bring your involvement to a quick end in this matter,
- you were at the address for the Tax Year indicated but do not recognize any of
the items referenced in their letter as being from your tax return
- you simply do not understand what the document is discussing and need
IRS TELEPHONE NUMBERS:
- Memphis, TN (901) 544-3243
- Jackson, TN (731) 423-2441
- Taxpayer Help Line (800) 829-1040 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM Local Time
- Line for Deaf (TDD) (800) 829-4059 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM Local Time
- Jackson, MS (601) 292-4711
- Little Rock, AR (501) 396-5711
All of these are triggers indicating possible fraud and should be reported to the IRS in a timely manner in an effort to minimize your prolonged involvement in a potential fraud or error.
KNOW THESE FACTS TO PREVENT YOU FROM BEING THEIR VICTIM:
- Scammers make unsolicited calls.
Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.
- Callers try to scare their victims.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
- Scams use caller ID spoofing.
Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
- Cons try new tricks all the time.
Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
- Scams cost victims over $23 million.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.
THE IRS WILL NOT:
- Call you to demand immediate payment.
The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way.
For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
IF YOU DON'T OWE TAXES, or have no reason to believe that you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
IF YOU KNOW YOU OWE, or think that you may owe tax:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
CONTACTING A COMPANY OR GOVERNMENT AGENCY
When contacting any company or government agency using the provided information, e-mail addresses are most likely not those of these organizations if this is a scam. While the bad guys like to operate only for a few days to avoid arrest, only use telephone numbers you obtain from prior statements, printed on your credit card or listed in the telephone directory. Web sites can and have been hijacked placing those as a potential problem for you. Always stick to the facts that you can prove. Your beliefs and suspicions are often of low value in these matters and can in the end cause you more harm than good. Always assume that someone will be recording your conversation for review for the benefit of the company or government agency.
For Gov't Notices:
Below is sample of a fake government notice that is one of many that are circulating. Read the notice then the SO WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? section to highlight the indicators of a scam.
<Your name appears here>, Notice
of Appearance in Court # 000264223
Dear <your name appears here>,
This is to
inform you to appear in the Court on <a date often within 2 weeks or less> for your case hearing. Please
do not forget to bring all the documents related to the case.
NOTE: If you do
not come, the case will be heard in your absence.
Notice is attached to this email.
SO WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?
The bad guys have real people's names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers after getting into a financial institution. Apparently this is not regarded as private information. As a result the e-mail addressed to you by name adds fear which encourages you to stop thinking and start acting ... the ideal situation for the bad guys. With your address they could determine what County but the bad guys must move quickly and that takes time. However you may see this in the future as attempts to add additional personalization grow to enhance their victims.
They add your name TWICE to the e-mail to add credibility. They probably bought your name, phone number and e-mail address for a penny (yes, one cent in a bulk purchase of stolen information) along with thousands of others.
We respect authority and the District Court and Clerk are authority figures. So they use an Authority figure to lure you into to their trap.
They insert a date coming up in the near term to add pressure for your quick action.
There is often no reference to the nature of the case but would not be difficult for the bad guys to do a little research and insert a proceeding held in a District Court.
While you are NOT automatically entitled to an attorney provided by the State, you are entitled to bring an attorney. This is sometimes listed in such official documents but is not required that they advise you of that right.
The attachment is a ZIP file, which could contain anything from multiple legal documents to a program to erase everything on your computer or hold your data for ransom (yes it is possible and is happening).
Additional fear as added as you are expected to appear for something you know nothing about and bring all of the paperwork which you also know nothing about.
You only means to start addressing this crisis is by opening the attached Court Notice which is the ZIP file AND OPENING THE FILE IS BAD FOR YOU!
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
Most important is WHAT SHOULD YOU NOT DO:
(a) DO NOT open the attached like they want you to do, or
(b) DO NOT reply to the e-mail hoping for information that will never come.
Bad guys want to scare you into action to win their game making you their victim.
The best defense: Stop and think. Then realize you do NOT have to follow their directions. You win!
Check the senders e-mail address. Does it make sense that a local court uses a foreign e-mail address or one that is not a government office which includes at least the county's name?
Call your District Clerk's office to verity the name and the case number. There is an very good chance they may thing your an idiot so explain why you are calling. It may prepare them for additional calls. Forwarding the e-mail should NOT put you at any risk but when forwarding include a note about your concern it is a fraudulent and potentially harmful e-mail from the attachment so no one can argue you were spreading it around.