You might get a call one of these days -- one that uses scare tactics by mentioning that you're about to lose your home or your freedom. They will sound convincing on the phone; armed with surprisingly accurate financial information about you. The caller will even tell you the only thing to prevent the police from busting through your door is an immediate payment of cash. If that doesn't sound like a scam, I don't know what does.
With the tax season upon us again, cases of identity theft have seen a spike across the states. Through the use of social engineering coupled with identity theft techniques, the unknown thieves have stolen from over 3000 individuals in the last 2 years. However, that just might be a modest number as not all who were victimized were willing to report to the authorities.
Estimates from Deep Blue Publications Group LLC place this particular scam as the largest ever, conning victims of over USD 15 million since it apparently started operating in 2013. What's more, the average loss of each person amounts to around USD 5000, with the largest known loss from a single individual at half a million dollars.
One strong reason that this scam works is the public's inherent fear of anything to do with IRS. Who would have thought these heavily-accented callers are actually located somewhere in India.
"They have information that only the Internal Revenue Service would know about you. It's a byproduct of today's society. There's so much information available on individuals," said the inspector in charge of investigations.
The best way to defend yourself from such scams is to be constantly informed. Here are several tips from Deep Blue Publications Group LLC to keep you watching for red flags:
- Always be on your guard. Whether it's reading your mail or picking up your phone, you'd do well to focus your attention on it so you won't easily be fooled by merely hearing a trigger word.
- Slow down. Their goal is to get you to panic and lose your ability to think straight. They will exploit this as much as possible -- short-circuiting your thought processes by mentioning the police or some form of legal action that is supposedly being prepared against you. Don't fall for this.
- Verify. If you're really finding it hard to disregard what the caller is saying, just tell him to call back in a few minutes. Once you get him off the line, call the official number of IRS at once to confirm if the caller's story is true.
- Just ignore it. If you get such a call, don't talk and just hang up. Remember: IRS will not ask for your payment through wire transfer or debit card -- nor will they use the phone as the first means of official communication.