The Better Business Bureau is warning the public of impostor scams, which cause thousands of Americans to lose large sums of money every year.
Internal Revenue Service and Canada Revenue Agency impostor scams are among the most reported on both sides of the Canada-US border. The other worryingly common impostor scam involves someone impersonating your utility company threatening to cut off your power, water, or another utility.
The BBB receives complaints about impostor scams on a daily basis. Impostor scams generally carry several red flags. The most important red flags to watch out for are threats and being pressured into paying your dues in a big rush. These red flags are often followed by a demand to pay your dues with an unusual payment method.
These scams often begin with a call from a “IRS representative” or someone who “works for your electricity provider.” These scammers will often call to turn the heat up on you to make you believe that legal trouble is coming your way fast. To make matters worse, they’ll often go so far as to threaten you over voicemail with legal action should you not respond immediately. This kind of communication is never legitimate, regardless of whom the scammer is pretending to work for. In the case of the IRS, you can find information on how they correspond with taxpayers on their website. If the IRS contacts you, it’ll be through the mail, not through a phone call. In the case of utility bills, the company will send you multiple letters if your payments are past due.
In order to avoid getting annoyed or scammed by these kinds of impostors, don’t communicate with them any more than you have to. If the “IRS” calls you out of the blue to threaten you with legal action, hang up right away, and before you do so make sure you don’t provide them with any personal information. This is especially important when it comes to debit card payment details, and even more so with your social security number. If this scam is attempted on you, you can report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission and/or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. If you don’t know about your tax status with the IRS and would like to speak to them, you should call them directly at 1-800-829-1040.