India is a hub for call center support for many companies’ customer service. It also is a center for phony IRS phone calls in which the caller, claiming to be an IRS representative, demands immediate payment of overdue taxes and threatens dire repercussions if the payment is not paid. Earlier this week in India, police raided three buildings in a Mumbai suburb and arrested 70 people they allege to have managed approximately 600 people who made thousands of calls each day to the United States posing as IRS agents demanding money. This particular call center had been operating for about a year before an informant went to police a few weeks ago. Posing as the IRS, the scam call center sent out approximately 10,000 text messages to unsuspecting Americans prompting their victims to call the scammers who identified themselves as IRS employees named Christopher or Daniel. Authorities are estimating that this particular IRS scam call center took in as much as $150,000 every day.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received more than 1.7 million complaints about these kinds of calls during the last three years and the real number of calls is certainly quite higher.
It was just last year that Sahil Patel was convicted of operating a similar IRS phony phone call scam using call centers in India.
This scam is easy to avoid. Don’t trust your Caller ID because using a technique called spoofing, a scammer can make his or her call appear to be from the IRS on your Caller ID. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. The easiest way to recognize if a call from the IRS demanding money is a scam is to be aware of the fact that the IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer to collect overdue taxes by a phone call, email or text message. Any such communication is from a scammer so you should just ignore it. Additionally, unlike the IRS, the scammers often ask that payments be made with iTunes gift cards, which is something that the IRS will never do.