Hey Caiti: Will you be predator or prey?

If you scare easily, if you can be easily intimidated.

If you simply are ignorant of the facts, then the IRS scammers want to speak with you.

It is not a new scam. It’s been around for about two years. And because it has been around for a while, the scammers have gotten really good at making their phone pitch. So good, in fact, that the U.S. Treasury reports the scammers have been able to collect $26.5 million from approximately 5,000 victims in less than three years.

This amount of money taken from this few people explains why the IRS scam is still going strong. In fact, it is going on right now. The IRS scam occurs all year, not just at tax time. Making phone calls all year actually helps the scammers sound more legitimate.

During the regular tax season people are more vigilant, especially if they are receiving a refund. By this time of the year most people have spent their refund and have forgotten about the warnings, which makes them more vulnerable to the scammers. And do not believe it is just the low income, or the less educated, or the elderly that are the scammer’s targets. Everyone ignorant of the facts is not safe.

The IRS scam is not going to end anytime soon. This scam is one of the most lucrative out there today. Susan Hogan, writing for WORKING4YOU NBC says, “Recently a taxpayer in Loudoun County fell victim. The caller demanded more than $27,000 to be paid with gift cards or the taxpayer would be arrested. In fear of going to jail, the victim paid.” When the criminals behind this scam can collect $27,000 from one phone call, why would they stop making phone calls?

And that is how they will initially contact you. They may follow-up with an email to lend legitimacy to the phone call, but first contact is normally by phone. What makes the phone call even more credible is they will leave a voicemail message.

Many people believe, mistakenly, that if it were a scam, a criminal would not leave a message with a call-back number. But the message cannot be traced, and if someone with knowledge of the scam returns the call, the phone is hung up or the number is discarded and a new number replaces it.

If you answer the phone, or call back, the caller will say he is an IRS agent calling to inform you that you owe taxes, and if those taxes are not paid immediately, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Now, as you read the above statement, you may smile and say, “How could anyone fall for such a line?” But, when an individual calls, with a totally authoritative voice, gives you his name, an IRS badge number, offers up your phone number, your address, the tax year in question, and possibly the last 4 digits of your social security number; you can become a believer in a matter of minutes.

Sadly, our media, movies, commercials, and of late, some politicians, fuel the fires that allow this scam to burn so brightly. When our media reports of a case where the IRS has just seized the bank accounts and property of a tax evader, without telling the whole story; we fear it may happen to us. When self-professed experts — those without a law degree — tell us they personally know someone who was just jailed by the IRS; we fear it may happen to us.

And fear is the key to the effectiveness of this scam. The people behind this scam are criminals, and criminals are predators that have well-honed skills in stalking their prey. These criminals prey on our fear of the IRS and big government.

Because of international borders and technology, it is almost impossible to catch these scammers. The only way to stop being their prey is to become informed and aware. Using knowledge and awareness, you can become the predator of these scammers. Predator or prey? It will be your choice.


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