It's a scam sharply on the rise for good reason: People fall for it.
The IRS imposter scam operates on the fear Americans have of the IRS. If you got a call from someone who claimed they were from the IRS and told you that if you didn't pay up soon you'd to go to jail, would you be quaking in your boots?
In the latest twist in this scam, the crooks leave voice mail messages to what appear to be targeted groups. The anti-fraud firm Pindrop Security explained the move is an act of efficiency.
Rather than waste time trying to convince people on the phone that the IRS needs them to fork over cash right now, the crooks are making auto-dialed calls aimed at more vulnerable populations (senior citizens and immigrants) and leaving voice mail messages.
Those messages do the work for them. If someone calls back it's an indication that they, at least to some extent, believe the call could be real.
Listen to an actual message that Pindrop has posted and you'll get an idea of what you can chalk up as a scam.
For one thing, the IRS won't make a call like that. And, for many people, the broken English (most of these scam calls originate overseas but use caller ID spoofing to appear to be real) would be an instant red flag.
Here's a sample from the recording:
"Because you are intentionally fraud with the IRS. You do not follow the terms and conditions, so at this point of time, I would think about that you are intentionally fraud with the IRS. That's the reason we start the legal action against you."
Keep in mind the IRS will not call your home to demand payment by preloaded debit card or through a money transfer service. Both are cash-based transactions that are difficult to trace and almost impossible to reverse, and are the main ways crooks in these types of crimes get their payoff.