Friday , 9 December 2016
irsscam

IRS Lawsuit Phone Scam – It Happened To Us!

ALERT: If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS, it is NOT the IRS.  The IRS will not attempt to reach you by phone, they will do so only through the mail.  They will not use scare tactics or demand money, nor threaten to bring in law enforcement.  They will not require a specific payment method for taxes.
This is not really a “malware” article per se, however we here at the website were recently attempted victims of a phony “IRS” phone call.  This particular phone phishing scam has apparently been going on for about a year and a half, and unfortunately many people are falling for it as the perpetrators use extremely aggressive scare tactics.

The story: this morning I received a call from a 347 area code number that appeared to be from New York.  That is my state of residence and so that was one reason I thought it might be legitimate.  I didn’t listen to the voicemail right away, but about an hour or two later I received a call and voicemail from the same number.  Thinking it must be important, I listened to the voicemail.  I heard an automated, American sounding female voice saying “this is to inform you that the IRS is filing lawsuit against you.  For more information on this case file please call our department number at 347 xxx xxxx.  Thank you.”  My heart definitely fell through the floor.  I immediately started to question what I could have done wrong, then worried that my accountant had somehow screwed up my taxes.  It was a scary message to hear.  I was preparing to either call the number or call my accountant, when a small voice in the back of my head told me to Google it.  I don’t know what I was looking for, perhaps information about other people having something similar happen to them.  I didn’t think it was a scam.

Well, much to my relief the number one result in Google was information that this type of call is absolutely a scam.  I went through relief, and then some anger that they caused me stress.  I couldn’t resist calling back out of curiosity to see what they would say, and maybe get a bit of harmless revenge.

I dialed the number and the first time it was busy.  The second time it rang, but rang forever.  Nobody picked up.  Called again.  Busy.  Called again.  This time a woman with a thick Indian accent answered the phone and asked me to give my name.  I asked if I could get her name first.  She gave an American sounding name (that I can’t remember) and told me she was with the IRS.  I asked her to prove to me that she was from the IRS.  I heard an audible frustrated exhalation from the other end of the line and, *click*, she hung up on me.

Well, that was fun but much too short.  I called again and got a different woman, same sounding accent.  She asked for my telephone number, and I asked her if she knew she was scamming people out of thousands of dollars.  Silence, for a bit, then she quietly said I don’t understand.  I asked her if she spoke English, and that she should understand me if she actually worked for the IRS.  Silence.  I said I was reporting them to the FTC immediately and she should walk out of there if she didn’t want to get arrested (a little payback for the scare tactics they seem to be inflicting on people).  Then I told them never to call me again.  She responded with a “you don’t know anything, [expletive]” and then hung up on me.  It actually sounded like she was going to cry, so maybe I got to her conscience a little bit.  Hopefully she will quit that job and find something a bit less criminal to do with her time.

While satisfying, I doubt they will stop the scam anytime soon because of me.  So for now, I hope you find this page (or any of the other sites out there reporting the truth about this scam) before you end up giving any money to these criminals.

These calls come with a variety of different techniques.  Some will be from a live person.  Others will use an automated message telling you to call the number.  They all use fake similar names, and sometimes claim to be detectives rather than IRS agents.  They will sometimes claim that there is an arrest warrant pending and that your property or address is under investigation.  Often they have identifying information about the victim to make them seem more legitimate, such as the last four digits of their social security number, their address, or their phone number.

If you DID get a phone call from these guys, you can report your experience to the FTC and the US Treasury.  I’m not exactly sure what they are doing to stop them as they appear to be operating overseas and using numbers designed to look like they are coming from the United States.  However, it’s the best you can do for now.  Unfortunately local police likely won’t take a report.

Let friends and family know about the scam as well, especially those that are likely to fall victim to the scheme.  I posted about the scam on social media right after I hung up with them.  The more people that know about this, the better.

For more information you can read the FTC Consumer Blog post about the scam and some information on how to proceed.

Did this happen to you?  Leave a comment below and tell us what happened and what the caller’s tactics were.

About Bill Gordon

Bill Gordon has been writing on tech and malware subjects for 6 years and has been working in the internet and tech industry for over 15 years. He currently lives in Southern California.

11 comments

  1. Ahhhh…I get these calls all the time….and now I treat them as stress relief.

    How? Easy! Settle down in a comfortable chair, and call them back, but don’t forget to black your caller id.

    Now, when they ask for your phone number give them the phone number of your local IRS office. Once you have them hooked get them to go over the details of how they wan you to pay etc.

    One you have killed about 30 minutes of their time let them know you are really an IRS fraud inspector and their call was traced and recorded.

    They will hang up and the number disconnected within minutes….

    Great fun.

  2. I just got a call. Your description of the caller was perfect. It was exactly like mine. After I calmed down, I did a google search and thankfully this page came up. Thanks.

  3. Mike Stevenson

    I also recently discovered they or possibly another group is doing something similiar via email. They sent an email claiming I owed money for a loan (which I dont) and that if I didn’t contact them for payment arrangement they would sue me and also contact the IRS, claiming I hadn’t paid taxes on this “loan”. Failure to contact them within 24 hours will result in this action. Who can I report this to? Same as above? Also kinda scary, they had my roommates SSN, in full. BTW, I’ve also received two of these calls from 347 Area Code in last 2 days.

  4. Melberta Hogenmiller

    I want them to Quit calling me the number is 206 317 1467 he wasn’t from our Country and really could not understand him if I don’t pay they were going to take my house

  5. I received that same voicemail this morning . Panicked I immediately Called back, response was I was calling a wrong number .. I told my husband he said look up the IRS, I did.. Nothing of that sort .. So I google and found its a scam happening to many.. Now I’m relieved , but now I’m pissed that they are trying to scam me ..

  6. I also did Google search and got this page before returning the suspicious call. Thanks for helping out.

  7. I just got a call from a 347 number. This time they claimed they represented my ISP and that they had received complaints about me because my email address was sending out Spam and that charges were pending against me. The scams they come up with for extorting money are amateur and they make laugh. Next time I get a call from one of these numbers I will turn the tables on them and have some fun of my own.

  8. Whew, thank god I found this article. I was freaking out all day after receiving three calls from what I’m assuming is the same Indian woman you described above. So thanks for writing this! Really calmed me down 😀

  9. I received a call from the “IRS” yesterday as follows; “This message is intended for Frank xxxxxx. This is Megan Dan calling from the investigation department of the internal revenue service. The reason I’m giving you a call today is to notify you, as well as to make you aware about a legal case that has been filed under your name. So before we go ahead and proceed with the case in a legal way, I want you to give me a call back as soon as possible and my department call back number, which is at 347 539-8505. (repeated twice) If I don’t receive a call back from your end, then forcefully, we need to quote this case legally in the court house. Before we do that, please make sure to give us a call back. Thank you.”
    Obviously, English is not their first language. And, as you pointed out, the IRS does not make phone calls. They do all of their business by mail. I would like to see these people caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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