Spam Phone Calls – What to Do

I got an interesting robo-call today saying, “Hello. My name is Marcus Brown and I am calling from the Criminal Investigation Division of IRS. Your IRS return has been involved in fraud. This call is officially a final notice from the IRS, Internal Revenue Service. Please call us back at 202-470-5869 immediately to resolve your return by making a payment.” it then repeated the number.

Normally, I just listen to the end to hear Press 2 to removed from our call list, but this time they just hung up.

I obviously knew I wasn’t involved in any fraud and knew a few things about the IRS:

  • When you have a tax problem, the IRS will first contact you by mail, not by phone.
  • The IRS won’t demand that you make payment on a phone call

If it didn’t sound so menacing, I would have blown it off as just another spam phone call but because they pretended to be the IRS, I figured I would dig a bit deeper so that I could report them. (I’m such a good little citizen.)

Federal Trade Commission - spam robocallsI did a web search on the phone number and found many other people complaining about phone spam pretending to be the IRS and found others who had reported the call to the FTC.  I never thought to do that before, so I decided to do so.

The Federal Trade Commission website had some handy spots to file a complaint, and also reminded me that if I wasn’t already, I should be on the National Do Not Call Registry. Thinking that maybe numbers expire off that list, I used the option to Verify Your Registration. Again, a few clicks and an email later, it showed that yes, I am on the registry and have been since 2003.

One interesting thing I read was something I had done wrong when receiving robo-calls.  I normally wait until the end of the message to see if there is an option to be removed from their call list and then press the appropriate number.  Turns out, that is NOT what the FTC recommends.  They say that just verifies to them that it is a good number.

What is recommended is to 1) hang up right away and 2) reported the call to the FTC.  They claim that is much more effective.

Learn something new everyday!

by Chris Doelle