Ever gotten a voicemail that sounds a bit threatening and urgent from a vague agency that appears to be affiliated to the government?
I received one today…
“Department is pursuing the case file. Call the department at 469-405-8495. To get more information call 469-405-8495. Failure to call will result in serious legal consequences and suspension of your Social Security number.”
After hearing this, my mind began to race a bit. One thing about me: I’m a rule follower and a people pleaser. So, the thought of a government agency pursuing a case file on me is enough to get my knees knocking.
But, after years of learning from elder law attorneys about these types of scams, I knew to take some protective steps before calling that number.
First, I Googled the phone number. Google’s first result said that this number was part of a common scam.
Second, I visited the Social Security site to see what they would do to get in touch with me if they wanted to.
“In an effort to combat such scams, we want to make one thing perfectly clear: Social Security will not send you an email asking you to give us your personal information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or other private information. If someone saying they are from Social Security does email you requesting information, don’t respond to the message. Instead, contact your local Social Security office or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to see whether we really need any information from you.”
So, had I thought this was a real phone call, I would have called the 800 number above instead of the one left on my voicemail. Read more here.
Third, I wondered: what would the IRS do to get in touch with me if I owed them money?
The IRS will not:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes, or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or report it online at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting Page.
- If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Lastly, I filed a complaint about that number at the FTC Complaint Assistant.
Protect yourself by educating yourself!