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I don’t get some people.

Imagine devoting your life’s work and precious time on this earth to scamming people out of their money. How do those people sleep at night? What does their mother think about their career choice?

Like I said, I don’t get people. Don’t even get me started on the Ray Rice (aka wife-beater and all-around thug) elevator incident.

This rant is about a threatening phone message I picked up today, allegedly from our friends at the IRS.

I had heard about this scam on the news, but even if I hadn’t, the message reeked with no-good-ed-ness. An automaton voice said,

“Return this call the very second you receive this message. I need you, or your retained attorney of record, to return the call. The issue at hand is extremely time-sensitive. I am Officer Julie Smith from the Internal Revenue Service and the hotline to my division is 415-251-6983. Don’t disregard this message and do return the call before we take any action against you. Good-bye and take care.”

First of all, since when did IRS agents start saying “take care” when they threaten action against a taxpayer?

Secondly, I know IRS agents are stiff, but they have become androids too? (My apologies to any non-stiff IRS agents out there.)

Smelling a rat, I Googled the phone number, and of course, it popped up as a scam on several message boards. One person who commented on the board said he called the number back 25 times in one day just to hassle the scammer! I’d like to meet that guy and shake his hand. You gotta love his pluck.

What troubles me most about this scam is there are many people who might fall for it, for example, my 91-year-old dad. A call like that would scare the bejesus out of him and I could see him immediately calling the number back and forking over money. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, an estimated $5 million has been lost to these scams. Tragic.

Picture this scene:

A scammer comes home from a hard day at the office and their June Cleaver-ish wife asks, “How was your day, dear?”

“Excellent! I bilked another sap out of his life savings.”

This information is hot off the IRS website:

Characteristics of this scam include:

Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.

Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.

Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.

Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.

Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

I will add here, the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by phone ~ they always send written correspondence first.

This was my public service announcement of the day. Oh and yes, I did file a report to the FTC.