It seems like right around the holidays is always peak phone scam time.

After the third call from an Aspen, Colorado number (I don't know anyone in Aspen, but wish I did; aren't there, like, ski slopes and rich people there?), I decided to answer.

And this-- well, THIS is what an IRS scam call sounds like, in case you've never heard one. I'd heard of scammers calling and threatening to send you to jail if you don't pay up, but I'd never actually gotten a call like that myself...

I happened to be in the WGRD studio, so thought, why not record it? I wasn't entirely quick enough and the first little bit got cut off.

What the robot voice said before I started recording is,

"This is an urgent matter...."

Oh is it?

My thing is, if you're going to try to scam me, at least use proper grammar.

And referring to law enforcement as "the cops"? Pretty sure a government agency wouldn't do that.

At least they are semi-polite scammers? They did end with "Thank you"...

I was almost tempted to call the number back and be a real a-hole, just to see how much of their time I could waste.

That was always a favorite past-time of my Dad's and I appreciated the effort and time he'd put in to really ruining some scammer's day.

Have you gotten any calls like this?

In case it's not abundantly clear...

IT'S NOT THE IRS.

Turns out, I'd actually written an article about the Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, warning about this very scam back in March.

Schuette's advice was to hang up and not give out any personal info, saying the state or federal government will never call you and threaten you over the phone.

The IRS explains their policies in an official release:

The IRS will not:

  • Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

Scam calls can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.