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Police raid on India call center provides details on tax scams

Who falls for IRS tax scams? A review of news stories turns up an IT professional in Wisconsin, a mother in Eureka and a Washington state truck driver.

In some cases, the caller ID displays IRS or a local number. Sometimes, the individual on the phone knows personal information. The tax amounts sound real, for example $2,465.92. The recent bust of a ubiquitous call center in India shows how good the scammers have become.

The call center outside Mumbai looked like many others

Hundreds in the Indian call centers had an unusual job: impersonate IRS agents. They were taught an American accent and introduced themselves with common American names like Daniel or Christopher.

The commissioner of police in the western state of Maharashta explained that the employees sent mass text message to cellphone numbers that sounded urgent. When a person called to learn more, they were often pressured to make an immediate payment by threats that the local police or IRS agents were on their way. Money would be sent to U.S. banks accounts and then routed to India. They were so good that some estimates put collections at up to $150,000 a day.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received more than 1.7 million complaints related to tax scams in the last three years. Almost 9,000 people have fallen victim and lost more than $47 million.

A review of IRS collection tools

The IRS has a variety of tools to collect back taxes. These include asset seizure through a lien, levy or garnishment.

But even as the agency starts to outsource certain debts to private collection agencies, there are certain things it will never do. Here are a few:  

  • A phone call, text message or email out of the blue. The agency still prefers the postal service and written forms when contacting you about tax issues.
  • The Service does not ask for payment over the phone. And it will never demand prepaid debit or iTunes cards.
  • Those authorized by the IRS to collect tax debt do not threaten to send local police or an IRS agent to arrest you

No one wants to admit they have fallen for a scam. It is not just something affecting the elderly or vulnerable. The changing tactics and sophistication of the schemes can trick anyone. The best way to avoid these issues is to deal with tax problems right away.

A variety of programs exist to help you depending on your circumstances. If you are worried after receiving a tax audit notice or a significant business or personal tax assessment, call and speak with tax attorney Scott Kauffman.

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