Several times a month I get a phone call from someone saying they’re from the IRS. I don’t answer, but I listen to the message.

In the message, they state that the IRS will be taking action against me due to delinquent taxes. I can’t recall the rest of their threat if I don’t call them immediately. Which I don’t.

My accountant has told me numerous times that the IRS does not contact you by phone, and not to answer.

But of course, the phone call causes just a bit of anxiety. Because the thought of being in trouble with the IRS is a scary thought.

They do what they aim to do: sow seeds of doubt.

Sweet potato vine in galvanized tub

Lately, probably 6-7 times per day, I’ve been getting phone calls that register as Directory Assistance OK.

Yesterday I was fed up listening to the phone ring. I picked up for the first time and told them to stop calling my number. The man spoke with a foreign accent.

I didn’t listen to what he had to say, just angrily told him to take my phone number off of whatever list they had me on.

Who’s to know if that will stop it? Or if I made it worse by answering?

These kinds of scams are rampant.

Here’s what MSNBC Market writes about another scam tactic:

The growth of the phone scam is, in part, thanks to a new tactic these criminals are using that makes people more likely to answer their calls, and then trust them once they do.

Scammers are increasingly spoofing phone numbers to make them look familiar to you. They might use your area code or the first six digits of a friend’s phone number.

So be aware of this type call. It may not be your friend or family member. And if the person asks for money, you can pretty much count on it not being someone you know.

I do not answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number, but in this case I might be fooled.

Orange butterfly on penta plant

Yesterday I received an email from a reader who is very upset. I’ll let you read her email first before we go further.

Email:

My husband had just signed up for a Walmart credit card on their promotion, so I decided I would too.

He was accepted, but I was not, said my credit was poor. I couldn’t imagine that. I had a very good rating on my last credit report from Discover Card.

A few days later I received a letter from Synchrony Bank Creditor which said the reason my credit was bad was that I was deceased. I still cast a shadow, so I believe this was in error.

I called the credit company Experian who had the credit run made and they said they send their work to the Philippines and sometimes they made mistakes, they are not very careful.

She told me this could ruin my credit rating and that the word could get out that I am dead and that Social Security would stop sending my checks, and my credit cards would be frozen.

She sold me a LifeLock policy for $297 which I put on my Discover Card. I think this is outlandish to pay for LifeLock and pay that much because the credit card workers is the Philippines or wherever they are made a mistake and all I did was ask if I could have a credit card. To say that I am upset by this is putting it mildly.

***

Well, I didn’t know quite what to suggest. But I Googled scams and situations such as this and emailed her the links to read.

What do you suggest?

Have any of you ever had this happen? I have not, so I don’t know what to tell her.

Feel free to tell us all about scams where you’ve been targeted.

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74 Comments

  1. Brenda, I am a bookkeeper and work for a tax accountant. These IRS calls are absolutely a scam and many people get them. Please just ignore them and don’t let them worry you !

  2. I think the best way we could do is just ignoring calls if we don’t recognize the numbers. The first success step for those scammers is when they could talk to the potential victims. I personally always Google unfamiliar numbers before I pick up my phone. These scammers are not hard to be identified, actually. With a little search, I could find reports and warnings filed at http://www.whycall.me/845-450-2153.html about IRS scams. We need to keep spreading the words about these scams to our family.

  3. For the last week, I’ve received this popup message when I visit your page: “Safari can’t verify the identity of the website ‘fw.adsafeprotected.com’ ”
    The alert continues: The certificate for this website is invalid. You might be connecting to a website that is pretending to be “fw.adsafeprotected.com, which could put your confidential information at risk.
    If I click “continue” in order to read your page, a new page pops up: “adsafeprotected.com, which is a one-page ad for a large Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza. This has to be a scam. I wonder if anyone else gets this?

  4. I got the IRS call a while back and I just freaked out. But when I told my daughter about it she clued me in to the fact that the IRS never, never contacts people by phone. After that I got the call a couple times more, but by then I knew they were a scam. Ordinarily I won’t answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number. If I let the answering machine answer they never leave a message, so I know it’s nothing from anyone I know. I did get scammed once though when I got a call saying they were a MAC computer agency or something like that and said they’d learned a virus had infected my computer and had me do several things and then they were going to get rid of the virus but I needed to pay them about $200. And I was so naive that I did it. Then my daughter told me that it was a scam. And believe it or not some time later–maybe a year or so later–I got a call that they were going to refund my money because they had closed their business or something. Right away I recognized the Indian accent and hung up. I knew they were just trying to get information and had no intention of refunding my money.

    It’s a weird world we live in these days. I am a member of AARP and get their magazine which always has articles on the latest scams these crooks are trying to run so now I am more saavy.

    The butterfly photo is gorgeous. The colors are so beautiful. Hope you and Charlie are having a good week.

  5. If you happen to answer your phone, do not say yes or no! Scumbags can use it for buying something with your credit card or getting a loan I heard! All they need is your voice! So please everybody…just don’t answer it! Let them leave a message and then call back only if you know them. Or have them text you.
    If you own a land-line you could always slam the phone down or blow a whistle if you happen to pick it up. ?

    I get calls from all over the place on my cell but don’t pick them up. When I do google the number it’s always a scam.
    That woman should check with the bbb about that lifelock, bc that sounds suspicious, esp from the Phillipines, not in the states!

    They are also targeting kids ss numbers bc who would think to check them having bad credit! So now I heard people are freezing them! You can also freeze your credit cards yourself for free. I listen to intelligence for your life on the radio and you can learn alot.
    One more thing, is we all need to have 2 cell numbers. First your number and 2nd one a computer number. Only give out the 2nd number if needed bc surprise surprise scumbags can figure out alot more about you, from whoever you gave the number to, like banks, etc. I know it’s mind boggling to say the least!
    If I hear of anything else I will definitely pass it on.
    Excellent post Brenda!
    This helped me get my mind off of my nephew that just lost the fight yesterday, after 3 yrs of cancer!

  6. I receive these calls all the time. Never answer them. When we had our business we were audited by the IRS. We were sent registered letters anytime they wanted anything and we gave them to our tax accountant. The IRS will never call you on the phone.
    It is sad that we have to put up with people like this.

  7. We get all these annoying calls,too. We get calls that say we ordered certain products. Other calls say there is a warrant out for you or another is a friend needs you to send them money in a foreign country. We also get your car warranty is expired, we do not own a car.
    Marilyn

  8. Brenda, I have followed your blog for a long time and you inspired me to try writing one too. I wanted to ask you a technical question, do you use a program to resize your pictures? I tried to post some pics and they looked distorted. Feeling frustrated. I am user Blogger. Thanks.

  9. These scammers can also hack and use legitimate phone numbers of companies, etc My son got a call from a police department in a city where he used to live saying that he had a fine that he had to pay or he would go to jail. The number was legit when he goggle it. He then called the police station and was told that it was a scam- the police don’t make such calls. He never believed it was legit, but others might be fooled. Oh, he told the scammer that by the time he traveled 2000+ miles to arrest him, he’d be long gone!

  10. I get all kinds of crazy calls like this also…annoys me to death! I read that someone started answering their phone “Police Dept, Fraud Division, how may I help you?” The calls decreased significantly when answering the phone with that information! I’ve started using it and hope to see results before too long! Hope you are doing well!

  11. I give no information over the phone unless I made the call. No one gets my social security number or any of my account numbers. Did you know you don’t even have to give your social security number to your doctor? It’s the law that no one can ask for your number. They do and I use to give it out, but no more. When you get these calls, hang up. We get a lot of scam calls. I think it comes with our age. They think seniors are easy pickings. I don’t even give them the time to get out a complete sentence.

      1. Nope, you don’t have to. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even seen this on any doctor’s forms anymore in quite awhile. I remember when my boys were in high school and their registration forms always asked for their SS #. I always left it blank and wrote underneath, “Why do you need this?” I never got an answer.

  12. Thanks for the reminders in your blog as well as the responses. I did go to donotcall.gov and verified that our numbers are still registered. The disclaimer statement there makes it very clear that there are a number of calls that are not stopped, including political messages. We screen our calls but still find ourselves responding to ring tones and walking to the phone only to discover it is a call we won’t answer. And yes, we do get some calls from our rural prefix, assume it must be a friend or neighbor, only to realize too late it is a junk call. So today, I dug out the manual for the landline handset, set the ringer to be off, updated our message, and turned the volume down low on the answering machine. Now we can check messages a couple times a day, and answer the calls we want to. If I expected an urgent call, I could simply turn up the ringer. We still have a landline, for internet service among other reasons, don’t plan to stop it, but do want to be in charge of it.

  13. We have had this happen off and on for a few years. It is completely a scam. The IRS would bury you in paperwork, not call you. They even had a warning on our evening news about these calls. Block their number if you can, just hang up on them if you happen to answer your phone.

    1. I never happen to answer the phone. It’s right next to where I sit. Now I have to put on my reader glasses to see who’s calling though.

  14. I still have a landline. I prefer to talk on it when I know I have a long call to make. I use a company called Ooma. It’s $4.90 a mth. And I keep it on silent. I ck it periodically and it’s so easy to block calls on it. I switched to Ooma after my husband died. I’d put the hse in the market thinking I was going to have to pay for Memory Care as he had Alz and I couldnt afford the house and his care. I changed my mind just before he died. He passed on a Sunday and on Monday it went off the multiple listings and I got 35 phone calls from realtors wanting to buy it!! I literally had to scream at several they were so rude. So that did it and I went to Ooma. Set it up myself.

    1. I have my phone through Cox Communications, where I also get my TV and internet. Not sure what I pay. Not a lot.

  15. I also have a landline and I do not answer calls from someone I don’t know. Usually scammers don’t leave me a message. In the past I have gotten so irritated that I called the number back and told them I know they are scammers and to take me off their list, then I hang up! This has worked, at least in the past. I have also used the tactic of picking up the phone but not saying anything and waiting until the line goes dead. At this point I just don’t bother to pick up. I have to say that these calls are fewer for me lately!

  16. We have been the subject of several IRS audits because we own several companies. They do not call you, you are notified by mail. Don’t pay the calls any mind, they are indeed a scam. When I see a call coming in that is a scam , especially a local number that sometimes even says my name and phone number!… I pick up and hang up. The request to please remove you from the list doesn’t always work. The other option is to get rid of your land line. Do you have a cell phone? That’s all you need. So many people have ditched their landline – and truly ours is rarely used nowadays, although in truth we have not yet ditched our landline.

    1. I have a cell phone but don’t pay for minutes. So I only pay $13 a month to have a number if I need to use it. Only used it once. It is for emergencies. I like the land line. I’m old school.

  17. It’s a scam that has been going on for years. The IRS does not call you. They usually contact you by a Registered letter.

    1. My daughter was just here for lunch and she buys Lifelock through her job but got a good deal. I don’t know anything about it.

  18. The IRS will never call you. I have also received the IRS scam phone call. I knew that we didn’t have any problems with the IRS. The caller had a foreign accent that reminded me of India or Pakistan. When the caller threatened me with being arrested I told him to come and get me. When he escalated the threat I then dared him to come and get me and I laughed at him.

      1. NO A FOREIGNER CALLED ME AND LEFT A MESSAGE ON OUR ANSWERING MACHINE! LOL I CALLED HIM BACK AND SAID, “YOU’D BETTER NEVER CALL ME AGAIN SINCE I HAVE YOUR NUMBER AND WILL REPORT YOU TO THE FBI” LOL NEVER HEARD FROM IRS AGAIN. BUT I GET MULTIPLE CALLS FROM MICROSOFT BUT NEVER ANSWER THEM AND FINALLY LEARNED HOW TO BLOCK THEM OFF THE COMPUTER.
        HAVE RECEIVED TWO EMAILS STATING I’VE WON 500 MILLION DOLLARS. AREN’T I THE LUCKY ONE? LOL

  19. I only use a cell phone, but never answer numbers I do not recognize. Then I started getting the spoofed numbers calling that looked almost like my own. I was getting a dozen a day or more. So I assigned a ring tone to everyone in my contact list, then changed my default ring tone to silent. I figure if it is important they can leave a message.

    1. I just don’t answer the phone if I don’t know someone is going to call. Or it’s my doctor’s office, etc. My daughter and I almost always email.

      1. My sister and I figured out how she could text me from her phone to my computer email. Much easier for both of us since I hate cell phones and that is all she uses.

  20. A scam that has been used quite a lot here on older people is one we got: supposedly from a grandchild who needs money to get out of jail. They know the name of the grandchild and try to scare you into sending money. So many grandparents are falling for this, so I want to put this out there that it is a SCAM. How can some people be such parasites to take money from trusting people?!??

  21. Hi Brenda. First off, in regards to the IRS scam — yes those calls are a scam. I had similar calls, and I reported it to the sheriff’s office in my county. They said those calls definitely are a scam and absolutely do not give out any information. Here is how I knew they were a scam anyway — I did our taxes very early, and already had received our refund when I got the scam call. The guy was literally shouting at me, saying I was under surveillance and must immediately pay up (which did not seem funny to me, even though someone on here said they laugh at such calls.) I try never to answer such calls, but I was expecting a phone call from someone in the family, and when the phone rang I just answered without bothering to check who it was from. I am much more careful now!

    There are unsuspecting people who do get taken advantage of by scams. I had an elderly neighbor, now deceased, who literally got three or four dozen letters a day asking for money for every possible reason. Some looked OK, but others seemed pretty questionable. She would write out checks to all of these places and mail them! I was worried about it, but eventually I discovered that her son, who visited her every day, had started offering to mail the letters for her at the post office, and then he would take out the checks and tear them up so that her money stayed in her checking account to meet her own needs. I was relieved to hear it because she would have gone broke otherwise. Her son told me that because the places weren’t getting her money in the mail, the ones that had her phone number started calling, so then he had to figure out how to keep her off of the phone! They did not want to let go of a money source.

      1. He was indeed. What I didn’t explain was she was developing dementia. She remembered how to write a check, but didn’t remember that she had to keep track of how much money was in the account! So she could have ended up with an empty account. One other thing her son did was to ask if I would come over last Christmas and help them make a couple of her favorite Christmas treats, which were a type of candy and a type of quick bread. He was afraid it was going to be her last Christmas (which ended up being true) and he hated the thought of her dying and no one knowing how to make her recipes. He doubted he’d ever make them, and he hoped I might be might be interested. I said OK, and went over, and it was challenging to say the least — she had entered a very grouchy phase and kept snapping that we were doing it all wrong. But, I did get the recipes, and I’ll make them for the son this coming Christmas, even though they are not recipes I am all that crazy about. I’ll try to carry on for her. She was a sweet little lady and had taken in four stray cats. Her son inherited her house and now lives there with the cats. He says he doesn’t like them but he takes very good care of them. He still gets tons of letters and phone calls asking for money, and he ignores them all.

  22. Yep, big bad belly-crawling low-lifers left me that threat message yet again last week (IRS scam) and what a bunch of cowards! So let down it was a message only as would have loved to hit my pressurized airhorn in-a-can!
    So, is it just me or do others question why Experian employee would be selling LifeLock????????? Since there are multiple companies that offer such services I find it hard to believe that one of the three credit reporting agencies would endorse one specifically. In addition, any employee of any of the three credit reporting agencies not bothering to explain/offer how to block or put temporary hold on my credit but instead try to sell me LifeLock would immediately require me to ask for a supervisor and a request to escalate my complaint.
    And never say “yes”, use alternate wording. When asked if this is such-and-such I always ask who is calling. A good rule to remember is to never give info w/out getting info. Even if it seems like a legit call and am asked is this such-and-such, I will answer “it is” but again, never yes. Your voice may be recorded and later used as affirmation to a purchase.
    All this reminds me of past business days of the copier bandits. Would get call and scammer would say from home office and need make/model/serial # and unsuspecting people might give this out only to get drop-shipped over-priced toner and copy paper. One day I played back and kept putting person on hold for this flimsy reason or that, such as don’t know where serial number is, too heavy to move too see it and having trouble but I think I can move it and on and on doing all I could to drag call out until I got bored. Then I would come back on line one last time and ask the oh-so-expectant scammer if they had pencil and paper ready to be sure they get the info down correctly and finally would ask them if they were ready and then say the serial number is ABC, 123, bite me, bite me, bite me. In all fairness, that did get me called a See You Next Tuesday for which I asked, “but what are you?”
    What really irks me the most these days is if you stay on line to politely ask to be removed they argue with you. Or you tell them “no” early on and they immediately get argumentative.
    As (was it) Rosanna Anna Danna used to always say “its always something!”

  23. Hi Brenda, if you go to http://www.donotcall.gov and place all of your phone numbers in, your calls will diminish by 98% if not completely. I did this years ago, and maybe, just maybe I might get l phone call a month. Hope it works for you.

  24. The IRS definitely will not call you, and they certainly do not threaten people…2 obvious hints that these calls are a scam. Not that it always helps with unscrupulous callers, but have you put your number on the National Do Not Call list? You have to renew every 5 years. Donotcall.gov

    1. I just checked this out and it says if you’ve put your number on Do not call.gov you do not need to register again. However I get calls anyway, but not nearly as many. I do however love the calls that say they’re calling about my back pain and another that wants to discuss funeral plans with me!

  25. Brenda, I am like you I never answer the phone if I do not recognize the number. I am so tired of these crazy calls, sometimes like you 10-15 times a day. IT is scary and crazy.

    I hope both you and charlie have a wonderful day.

  26. Brenda, the IRS calls are a scam, and in my opinion, a hilarious one. We stand and here and laugh uproariously at the threat (left on messages) that a “POLICE OFFICER IS ON THE WAY NOW TO YOUR HOUSE!!!” Google this and read stories about how people engaged the callers and ended up being sworn at when they realized their time was being wasted by someone who was on to them all along. One lady cried and said she had no money, not even for food, but she would somehow have to find some. The scammer ended up feeling sorry for her and saying, “Never mind, this is just a scam.”
    What a world we live in. Everything good is spoiled by a crook – blog theft, credit card fraud, porch package pirates……
    Wish I had advice for the lady misidentified as deceased. Sounds like Lifelock is the scam she needs to be protected from.

  27. Brenda, I called my landline phone co about these calls. They have a free service called “Nomorobo” and it is great. The phone may ring 1-2 times then is cut off. I never answer until after the rings. Also, scammers can use local numbers. I never talk to these people. Sometimes, if you get ugly with them, they will get ticked off and then keep calling after you hang up. You can google “Nomorobo”. Good luck!

  28. Don’t EVER answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. If it’s important they will leave a message. Never say yes to anyone you are not comfortable with.

  29. We have the same scam going on here in Canada with the CRA, in your case the IRS. They caught one of my clients one day and they scared her half to death before she contacted her husband, her accountant and finally me (her bookkeeper) who all informed her she was being scammed. The prey on people these vultures and their naivety.

    These calls Brenda are one of the reasons I dropped a landline long ago and went to a cell. I never wanted a cell phone but the relief I have felt from total harrassment has been worth every second of it. Not so much from scammers here because I don’t even give them a second to open their filthy mouths but from sales calls that would ring my phone off the wall daily and some days all day long! Yes, you can get some of this on a cell too but they are few and far between. I am never reachable to anyone now other than a number I have listed so I can see exactly who they are.

    I cannot stand phones much to begin with and find them very disruptive to my life. I know a lady who use to say, “the phone is here to serve me and not me the phone”. I thought that expression was well said.

    1. Try just picking up the phone but don’t say anything. After a few times they will stop. It works where I live. Leave it off for a few minutes.

      1. I think that’s true. I used to get all these calls on the landline, and still do get some, but now it’s on the cell. Up to 8 – 10 calls a day. If I don’t see one of my contact names on the screen, I don’t answer, just delete. It really is harassment and shouldn’t be allowed.
        Mary

    2. I worked with Federal Crown (Department of Justice) in Canada, handling Income tax prosecutions. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the equivalent of internal revenue agency in the States. CRA and IRS will NEVER call you to tell you you owe money and if you do not pay right now they will come and arrest you. That will NOT happen. If you owe money you will have received many letters by mail, and then eventually a letter telling you to pay up will be personally served on you and then if you don’t pay, a court action is commenced and you are sent a Summons to appear in Court. And then the court process begins. The Royal Canadian Police commenced an investigation in conjunction with the police in India two years ago with respect to the scam phone calls and the payments made to these fraudulent telemarketers and many arrests were made overseas. However, they started up again and it was just indicated on our Canadian news that once again the RCMP and the Indian Police are investigating.

  30. Brenda, I get these same calls too, both on our landline and on my cell phone. At first, like you, I was concerned, because no one wants to get on the bad side of the IRS. As soon as I realized it was a scam, I just laugh now. Also, I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer answer the phone if it’s from a number I don’t know.

    Lifelock is very expensive. I froze my own credit over two years ago due to a medical security breach. Some states do not charge to place-or lift-the freeze. It takes a little effort but it’s well worth not paying $279. That’s just ridiculous!

  31. I’m like you, Brenda – I never answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number. Too many scammers out there! My ex was a sucker for every one of them….he would answer the phone and buy anything they were selling!

    1. They make me so mad by calling me I wouldn’t buy a thing even if I wanted it. I will buy what I want and I don’t want to be pushed by some idiot calling me.

  32. And fwiw, you can make it worse by answering. Some only need you to “at some time” say “yes” in the context of the conversation. The only thing I’d ever say is “put me on your Do Not Call List.”

  33. I buy nothing from a phone call or an email. I don’t care what it is. If I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer it. You can google the number and tell just by that. I only have a cell phone so when I get spam calls, I block them – I have an IPhone, so it’s hitting the little “i” in the circle, scrolling down till I see “block this caller.” I’ve gotten those IRS calls too. I love it when they say, “you better pay this.” I laughed. Now they’re using my phone exchange number for bogus calls. I block those too. I’ve also gotten calls from others with my number that “I” didn’t call. Spammers are also using your own phone numbers to make calls. So, 1)google number, 2) don’t answer anything you don’t know. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message, 3) block the number, 4) no reputable company calls for money.

  34. Brenda
    I have had the same call twice. It is a very threatening call supposedly from the IRS. Scammers do not only call once but 3 or 4 times each time getting worse with their threats. This should be stopped. Days can be difficult and this type of thing can confuse a perfectly good day. I am glad you shared this problem.

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