This an extension of my earlier post on debt collection scare tactics. There has been increased activity recently of groups of scammers posing as IRS agents.
This is an excerpt from the IRS alert…
People have reported a particularly aggressive phone scam in the last several months. Immigrants are frequently targeted. Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked. Callers are frequently insulting or hostile – apparently to scare their potential victims.
Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Debtors who have not yet filed for bankruptcy and own real estate – you should be receiving your 2014 property tax bills within the next couple of weeks. If you have previously submitted your 2013 property tax bill to my office for review in preparation to file, be aware that you should update your file with the 2014 tax bill once received. This will be mandatory on or after 1/1/2015.
- Debtors who have not yet filed for bankruptcy but intend to file under Chapter 13 – if you hope to file in early 2015, be advised that Chapter 13 Plans cannot be confirmed without the current year’s tax returns on file. Even though your 2014 taxes are not due to the taxing authorities until 4/15/2015, they will be required for confirmation of your Chapter 13 Plan if you file on or after 1/1/2015.
- Debtors who have already filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – remember to submit your 2014 tax returns to my office so I can relay them to the Chapter 13 Trustee. Those of you who are required to – remember to submit one-half of your income tax refunds. If you’re not sure whether you have that requirement, call my office or consult the most recent version of your Chapter 13 Plan.
- If you have defaulted on your energy bill during the more expensive winter months, remember that the winter moratorium ends on 4/15/2015, after which, your utilities can be disconnected. If you need the bankruptcy stay to prevent a utility shut-off, please consult with me well before 4/15/2015. Bankruptcy cases take time to prepare, and you’re probably not the only person who will be facing a shut-off. Also remember that Chapter 128 is no longer a viable option to stay a disconnection of utilities.
- Caller asks you for personal information, such as your address, phone number, social security number, bank account information, credit card numbers, birth dates, or your employer’s name. (If they’re a legitimate creditor, they already have this information. Nor should they need to verify your identity; they called you and they’re asking you for confidential information, not the other way around.)
- You ask the caller to contact your attorney, but the caller refuses to.
- The caller claims to be collecting a debt you do not recognize.
- The caller threatens you with arrest, criminal charges, license revocation, etc., but claims that they won’t take those actions if you make an immediate payment over the phone or online. (Such threats constitute
- Be careful to not trust a debt collector too easily. It is not difficult for them to obtain basic information about you, including the last 4 digits of your SSN. Others are able to spoof phone numbers and create false Caller IDs.
- Wisconsin Consumer Act
- Fair Debt Collections & Practices Act
- Automatic Stay & Discharge (Bankruptcy)
- Criminal Extortion Statutes
Prior to filing for bankruptcy, creditors may attempt to collect debts (third party debt collection agencies are restricted in their efforts under the FDCPA) and file civil lawsuits. Once your bankruptcy case is filed, civil litigation that hasn’t begun is prevented and civil litigation that is pending is terminated. Judgments arising from those lawsuits are dischargeable in bankruptcy.
(The intent elements necessary for the two actions listed below are extremely difficult to prove, which makes them extremely rare…)
- the perpetrators are difficult to identify and apprehend,
- there are often questions of which agency has jurisdiction, and
- prosecuting drug charges, rapes, and murders are more politically attractive.
Films like The Sting (1973) and TV series like Leverage (2008-2012) are extremely informative.
- Local Police
- State Attorney General
- Federal Trade Commission
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau