In a previous blog, I wrote about some of the more common IRS scams floating around out there. Chances are, either you or someone you know has been contacted by someone claiming to be an IRS agent, demanding payment for taxes that aren’t owed. A cursory search on the internet will find many videos people have posted of them “trolling” tax scammers. While funny, they miss a very important point – just engaging with a scammer can give them valuable information that makes their call worthwhile. How? Read on!
Just by talking to the fraudster, you’ve given them confirmation of two pieces of information – they have called a working phone number, and you will answer it. Many of these scammers are in the identity theft industry as well, and can now sell your number to others as confirmed. They may also be able to confirm this information even if you don’t answer – if you identify yourself in your voicemail message, they now know the number belongs to you. After answering, simply telling them “Don’t call me at work,” or “How did you get my cell phone number?” will give them more information that makes your phone number more valuable to identity thieves. They may also be able to use your phone number to obtain your address as well.
It’s possible to give them information just by challenging their claims, as well. If they cite your name and social security number, along with an amount owed, and you claim you don’t owe that amount, you just suggested they have the correct name and SSN. Current, verified personal information is a hot commodity in the identity theft market.
The longer you’re on the call, the more likely you are to inadvertently divulge more personal info. Any piece of personal information, such as your age or profession, makes your information that much more valuable to the scammer.
Remember – as funny as those videos are, the best way to handle a tax scammer is to simply hang up. Also, arm yourself with knowledge from the IRS here.