Last Monday, My friend Audrey, From, My Lady Melady; My Castle, My Food, talked about her experience with scammers calling her and trying to get to her computer. I strongly suggest you go to her blog and read the article. I wish I would have read like that about a month ago before I was the victim of a telephone scam.
One morning I went to work early to grab a cup of caffeine and a treat before I started my day. My phone rang and I ignored it. I didn’t recognize the number and I don’t answer my phone unless I recognize the number. However, I always check if they leave a message. This caller left a message saying there was an important, time sensitive issue that needs to be taken care of immediately. So I called back, my first mistake. On the other end of the line was a man who identified himself as officer so and so from the Fargo Police department and he asked if I was Julie A****. I said yes that was me. At this point I was only mildly concerned that the police where calling me. I am a law abiding citizen who has never been in trouble with the law in any form, during any of my 46 years on this planet. I didn’t flip out until he told me that he was calling on behalf of the IRS to tell me there was a warrant for my arrest for among other things tax evasion.How could I be in trouble with the IRS for tax evasion when I always get a tax refund. The man said the people who did my taxes made errors and I was responsible for the money. The man read a whole list of what later I found to be actual laws, including one immigration law, which I thought was weird because I am a natural born citizen of the United States. I wanted to call HR Block who has done my taxes for years. He told me I would be arrested immediately if I talked to anyone about this. It was an active investigation. This went on for sometime before I realized it was a scam and hung up. Unfortunately, I didn’t hang up before I lost 600 dollars.
I know what your thinking, I should have hung up right away. I should have asked questions about that Immigration “charge” since I am a natural born citizen. I did ask questions lots of them from the very start. I asked why I was being charged with an immigration violation when I am a natural born citizen. His answer invoked the law since 9-11. Every question I asked, this man had a believable answer to. It is his job to make me believe him and I did. I am a smart person. I have by passed many email scams, mail scams and even the computer scam Audrey talked about. So what made me fall for this one? It’s simple the man played, in fact counted, on my ignorance and fear. Like I said I have never been in trouble with the law, I had no idea how it worked. The man on the phone played on my fear of going to prison like a champ. He said he was here to help me then threatened me with going to prison when I challenged him in any way, which just scared me further. So I learned a very expensive lesson.
The very expensive lesson included:
- The IRS will never call or have someone call on their behalf. They will always get in touch with you by letter.
- If the police have a warrant for your arrest they are not going to call you and tell you. The police are just going to show up and arrest you.
- No police man is going to take money to cancel an arrest warrant.
- No police man is going to ask you to over draw your checking account for a “good faith payment” to prove you actually are going to take care of this problem. This was when I realized I was being scammed.
- The IRS isn’t going to take any form of payment for your debts except some version of cold, hard cash, check or money order. If they ask for some other form of “government bond” and then tell you can pay with a weird form of payment like paypal, I tune cards or something like that, hang up you are being scammed.
- Be very suspicious if the person on the other end of the phone tries to keep you from talking to anybody about the situation. They want you to be alone, isolated and scared so you will believe everything they say in your panic and fear.
In many ways this could have been a lot worse. I could have overdrawn my account and not only been out $600 cash but also $1500 dollars in debt on top of it. I could have lost my job over leaving to take care of this “problem”. This scam could have had some very long-range repercussions. So please be aware of scams that are out there so you can avoid them like I wish I had. Be safe. Julie