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There are a multitude of reasons why it is beneficial to have your own local Austin tax attorney or tax specialist, but one less obvious one has just made itself highly visible with the recent arrest of over fifty call center workers in Mumbai, India for posing as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and defrauding American taxpayers of large amounts of money. It pays to have professional help you can turn to if you’re uncertain of your footing with the IRS, as this case clearly shows.

IRS Phone ScammersFor a number of years now, phone scammers at call centers in India and the Philippines have been taking advantage of the complexity of the U.S. tax code by posing as IRS employees and claiming overdue or underpaid tax bills, and demanding immediate payment, threatening dire consequences such as property and asset seizure, imprisonment and even deportation if remittance were not made promptly. These schemes have been extremely profitable, netting millions of dollars for the orchestrators from people who were afraid of losing their homes, businesses and bodily freedom.

Scammers used both actual call center workers and robocalls to intimidate and coerce people over the phone, speaking directly to them and also leaving official-sounding messages to scare them into paying quickly. They also used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology to hide the true geographic source of the calls and make it appear as though they were originating from the IRS or from other government agencies, such as the Office of the Treasury.

Taxpayers have been demanding something be done about these phone scams, and reports about abusive telemarketing and robocalls make up the number one complaint category for the Federal Communications Commission, averaging almost a quarter million complaints per year. Legal enforcement has been made challenging, however, by the use of VOIP, which increases the difficulty of tracking the calls to their source.

The IRS has put together a great list of ways to spot the more obvious fakers. Key points include that the real IRS will never ask for immediate payment over the phone, they will never require that you use one specific type of payment (such as saying you must pay with a debit card only, or in prepaid cards), and they will never ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone.

Our tax code is incredibly complex and it’s easy to make mistakes in applying it or misinterpret the meaning behind certain sections. Scammers have been taking advantage of these facts to mislead and rob American taxpayers, with great success. If someone calls you demanding back tax payments, make sure to verify their identity with a professional before handing over any money.

Also, should you find yourself in actual hot water with the IRS, having an IRS enrolled agent or tax lawyer in Austin can be an even greater boon. Escobar & Associates have years of experience negotiating with the IRS on behalf of clients and can help smooth things out for you and your business. Contact us today to find out how we can help keep you within the law and give you peace of mind.

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