Long-time friends of my wife take great pleasure in telling me stories of how tough-minded she was as a teen-ager.  One story is told of my wife’s participation in a high school powder puff football game. Junior and senior girls were invited to play tackle football against each other.  And don’t let the name “powder puff” fool you—I’m told that this was an intense and wildly competitive game. The team coach made the decision to put my wife on the offensive line despite the fact that she weighed all of 103 pounds.  The coach knew that although there were other girls available, she was clearly the toughest of the players on her team.  She was lined up all afternoon against the biggest and strongest player on the opposing team. The quarterback of my wife’s team was never touched that afternoon by the opposition:  my wife made certain of it.

Sometimes in life, you simply have to be tough and not permit yourself to be intimidated by a bully. There are all kinds of bullies all through life who will take advantage of us if we let them. Today I want to warn our readers about two bullying tactics used by unscrupulous people in an effort to scam the unsuspecting and unprepared:

  1. Fake IRS Callers

Recently there has been a rash of telephone calls by people posing as IRS agents. These callers represent themselves as IRS collection agents who are going to file suit against us in court to collect taxes. These fake IRS callers also represent that they will put us in jail if we don’t pay soon, and they will have the sheriff come by to pick us up. They will call us on our cell phone, office phone, and at home. My phone has been ringing every day from people who have received these types of calls. My advice is not to be afraid. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied. These are  not real IRS agents. All they want is your money. Don’t give it to them and don’t answer the phone. If you do get stuck answering the phone, tell them you would be glad to meet with them to go over your case and then schedule an appointment at the office of your CPA or lawyer.  Again, these are not real IRS agents. They are scam artists posing as IRS agents trying to bully you into paying them money. Don’t be a victim.

  1. Fake Mail Solicitations

When new clients come in, I routinely warn them that if a federal tax lien has been filed or there if there are any other indications that they owe taxes, their mailbox will be filled with solicitations by scam artists seeking to represent them before the Internal Revenue Service. The scam artists are amazing in their ability to simulate IRS stationery. It’s almost as if they have taken actual stationery and put their names, address, and contact information in an effort to solicit new clients. They are even clever enough to take a federal tax lien form and put your name and contact information on it with the demand that you contact them immediately. Again, this is just a solicitation so that you send them money to represent you. But they are bullies because they are frightening you into retaining them. They are also misrepresenting what they can do. The scam artists are more sophisticated than the telephone callers, but in my mind equally dishonest.

I started this column by telling you a story of my wife as a tough-minded teenager (and tough-minded she remains today!).  I’m running this article today to encourage you to be equally tough-minded and to be aware of these types of scams.  If you receive a phone call from a purported IRS agent demanding your money, or if you receive mail solicitations warning of dire consequences if you don’t get immediate assistance from the mailer with a promise of fantastic results, please don’t be bullied and don’t act out of fear. Contact your tax adviser immediately and get the help of a professional trained to deal in IRS matters.