Unless you’re expecting an income tax refund or an Economic Impact Payment (EIP), an envelope from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not something you want to see in your mailbox.
Maybe you did your own taxes and made a mistake. Maybe someone else did your taxes and they made a mistake.
Or maybe you’re a criminal, and…
So it was with great trepidation that I opened the envelope from the IRS. I could feel the tension knotting up my shoulders. My vision got a bit blurry. My heart was pounding.
And I didn’t think even I’d done anything wrong!
I started to read.
The letter turned out to be not only innocuous, but helpful. The topic was the second EIP, and what to do in case I hadn’t received it yet. The suggestions included the “Get My Payment” option on the IRS website; the “Where’s My EIP” app on my smart phone; and a toll-free number to call.
The letter also offered this helpful information:
“Remember, the IRS won’t call or otherwise contact you asking for personal or bank account information…”
I guess the scammers who left us a message the other morning weren’t familiar with the IRS’ policy.
At 8:30am – 8:30am!!! – the scammers left this voicemail:
“Due to some suspicious activities related to your Social Security number, we are forced to suspend your Social Security number with immediate effect. In case you feel this is an error, you may connect to the legal department of Social Security Administration. In order to connect with Social Security Administration officer, press one. In case we do not hear from you, your Social will be blocked permanently. To connect now, press one, and you will be automatically connected to the concerned department.”
The male voice was heavily accented, and the script writer won’t win any Pulitzer Prizes.
But that’s not why we didn’t “press one.”
We didn’t “press one” because we know that doing so would connect me to someone who wanted my personal information or money – or both.
According to this IRS Tax Tip about this specific scam:
There are all sorts of warnings about scammers out there, from the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI and others. We hear the warnings, we read the warnings and then somehow, sometimes, when that scammer calls there’s a disconnect in our brains and…
These billion-dollar statistics say it better than I ever could:
In the U.S., money lost in phone scams almost doubled from 2019 to 2020.
People that get sucked in by telephone scammers aren’t stupid. But scammers are masters of intimidating people, scaring people, or in this case, romancing people:
These women went looking for love in all the wrong places, and the scammer found them. According to the article,
“Kofi Osei, a native of Ghana who lives in Randolph, Massachusetts, used fake names on dating sites and opened bank accounts using passports with aliases, according to court documents. When the women transferred money to those accounts, he quickly withdrew it, converted it to cashier’s checks, and used it to buy cars at auction and for other personal expenses, prosecutors said.”
What’s it all mean?
It’s means we’re all susceptible, myself included.
I haven’t fallen for a phone scammer yet, but…