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Voice of the Consumer: Date with an IRS scammer

By: betty sexton KKTV 11 News
September 25, 2016 Updated: September 25, 2016 at 10:16 pm
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photo - Betty Sexton
Betty Sexton 

IRS scammers are working hard to get inside your wallet, according to Tom and about 50 others who recently called.

I called a 719 number Tom had been given to see if they'd take my call. The man who answered said his name was Henry. Henry told me he had information about a lawsuit the IRS was filing against me. When I started asking questions, he didn't get testy, but feisty. He even asked me out.

I asked Henry where he was and he said 1111 Constitution Ave. Northwest, in Washington, D.C. Yes, he knew the "official" address for the Internal Revenue Service, but having been there I knew he wasn't being truthful. When I told him I knew he wasn't calling from that location, he asked my age. I told him, "I'm old enough . actually I'm old enough to know better." Henry said he was my "friend" and really wanted to know my age, "for his knowledge." Henry went on to say he was 32 years old.

I said, "Quid pro quo. My turn to ask a question. How much money do you make from the people you rip off?" Henry replied, "$10,000. Now my turn. Will you go out with me?" I told Henry that would be difficult considering I'm in Colorado and he's supposedly in Washington. I then asked, "What do you do with all the money you make lying to people?" He said, "I spend it on the ladies for a one-night stand." He then offered to pay me $50,000 to go out with him. I told him I was more interested in learning about his work situation. He hung up.

Yes, even crooks can be comical. But the IRS scam is no laughing matter. Just this month, I've had reports of hundreds of calls made to local residents. If you get a call, call TIGTA, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. TIGTA will shut down the numbers after they're reported. The number to dial is 1-800-366-4484. Even easier is going online to: www.treasury.gov/tigta.

All you have to do is answer a dozen questions, and TIGTA shuts down those numbers.

TIGTA officials tell me it's vital that we spread the word about this scheme. They want everyone to know the IRS will never call and threaten taxpayers. If the IRS believes you owe money, agents will send you a notice in the mail. You will never be told to pay up or be taken to court or be thrown in jail. You have time to present your case. The good news is that agents are making progress. Four months ago, they arrested five suspects in Miami. The group is accused of taking close to $2 million from over 1,500 victims.

I wish I had an answer for how to keep the bad guys from calling. Robo dialers or auto dialers are cheap and the technology makes it possible for telemarketers, politicians, and crooks to make thousands of calls for just a few pennies. The best advice is to be on guard and don't answer unless you recognize the number.

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Contact Betty Sexton at bsexton@kktv.com or 578-0000.

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