The IRS has issued a warning about scammers who are using the phone to get personal information from you and use it to commit fraud.
Why does it work? It works because we still believe that people are inherently good. When someone calls with our name and address, we want to believe they are being honest. They may even sound professional.
How can you spot them? First and foremost, always be on your guard. People tend to let their guard down and trust that a caller is being honest. However, the IRS says there are ways to identify scammers.
1. They demand payment immediately. Do not simply pay someone who calls and says you owe a bill.
2. They ask you for personal information. Don’t automatically give out personal information to someone who calls you.
3. You have no information about owing money. Never give out money to a random caller. Most companies will send a bill or statement before calling. If they claim that you owe money, request it in writing.
4. Check the facts. Use Google to look up a phone number or a statement address before doing anything further. Additionally, all of your information should match any correspondence from previous dealings with that company.
5. Do not let threats rattle you. Many scammers threaten to call the police. The problem is, owing money is usually a civil issue. Civil issues are handled in civil court–without the police. Do not let their threat of police action scare you.
Above all, never be afraid to question the caller. If you have to, call the number listed on your last bill to verify that your account is overdue. These simple steps can keep you from losing money and precious time. If a phone call doesn’t feel right, don’t give out any personal information. Remember, they called you. The burden of proof is on them.