Due to multiple busts recently to "scam centers," fraudulent IRS scam reports are down across the country, especially in Central Texas.
Erin Dufner, chief marketing officer at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Austin, said the IRS scam calls have been prevalent across the country the past year.
"Thousands of people have reported it on the BBB scam tracker," Dufner said. "A lot of people are being scammed by them. They're falling for these scams with these scare tactics."
However, people have been receiving less of these calls the past month due to recent busts made by police agencies who have been working to sweep away these scams. An indictment was unsealed Thursday, charging a total of 61 individuals for their alleged connection involving these fraudulent schemes. Five call centers, or "scam centers," in India were charged for their alleged involvement as well. On Oct. 6, agencies made a similar bust in India, arrested 70 people and bringing down nine call centers as well.
"This is great news for Americans," Dufner said. "This is fantastic for people who just really are annoyed by these IRS calls as well as the people who feel like they've been scammed."
The consequence of these arrests for Central Texas has been staggering. Dufner said since last October, her business has received 64 reports of this scam, with people in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell County losing about $2,000. Dufner said the scammers attempted to take $1.2 million. Since October 6th, when the first "scam centers" bust was made in India, the number of scam reports in these counties is down to zero.
"It's great that people are reporting them because the more information law enforcement has about specifics, the better we can protect people," Dufner said. "There is a lot better technology to be able to trace the location of these calls. That reporting is very important to the Better Business Bureau as well as law enforcement agencies."
Texas is just an example of the relief many are receiving across the country. The Better Business Bureau had been receiving about 225 scam reports nationwide per week. Since the first bust, that number has dropped almost 90 percent -- down to 24 per week.
It's important to note scammers almost always find a new method to get to people. Dufner said she has recently started hearing reports of people being contacted through the mail by tax collection scammers, which can be convincing since the IRS will only contact you through the mail.
If you do in fact receive any type of call or mail that you are trying to figure out might be fraudulent, it is important to do the following:
- The IRS will not as people to go out and buy pre-paid cards to pay off your debts.
- It is important to contact any business and verify debt you are told that you owe. You should also get written proof.
- Contacting the IRS directly is also a good idea. You can also visit their website as IRS.gov.
- When you are asked to provide any type of information, give as little as necessary.
- Always go to a physical location to speak to someone in person if you need to verify a debt.
- Keep your tax records in a secure locations for at least 10 years.