Worth Knowing: What happens when you turn the tables on those scammers claiming to be with the IRS . . .

Today the IRS called me and left me a message advising me that an arrest warrant had been issued for me and that I was being monitored. To be specific, the woman who left the message said she was calling from the IRS's Tax Crime Investigation Unit and that I'd better call back as soon as possible at 515-478-7236 before the IRS "proceeded." With what, she didn't say. 

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This isn't the first time we've received these calls. Thankfully, I know it's a scam and it didn't bother me one bit. In fact, I decided to call back. 

The first time I called, someone answered after about the 10th ring and said, "Peter Merkis, tax investigation unit." I said, "Did you say your name was Peter Merkis?" And the person hung up.

I called back. This time, the person answering did not provide me with a name but asked how he could help. I told him that I'd received a very disturbing phone call from the IRS and wanted to know how to fix things. He asked me for my case number. I told him they didn't give me one. He told me he could look it up with my name. (I was waiting for him to ask for my social security number, but he didn't.) I told him my name was Genevieve Smith, a made up name. He asked me to spell it. It took him a minute, but he then asked who I was calling for. I told him I was calling for me, Genevieve Smith. He told me that the name didn't match up with my phone number. At which point I told him he was a rotten crook and to never call me again. He hung up quickly. I guess these scammers at least have data linking telephone numbers to names.

I called back several times. The line was always busy. I'm pretty sure they blocked my phone number.

If this hasn't happened to you, it might and you ought to be prepared. The IRS does not leave messages like this. EVER. In fact, the IRS has a Tax Tip page that warns against these scams. You can see that here.

I called my town police dispatch office to ask if there was anything the police could do. I was told no, there is nothing the police can do since the numbers called from are masked. The officer I spoke to advised me that the department receives and average of half a dozen calls daily about scams like this. He told me they'd probably received 15 calls just today. Not every call relates to the IRS scam described above. Someone claiming to be in Nigeria is still trying to get people to transfer money through their bank accounts, and the scoundrels impersonating grandchildren in trouble are still out there too. So just be thoughtful if you receive odd or frightening calls, and tell your children and parents to do the same. Whatever you do, do not give out personal information to a stranger on the phone!

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