Imagine getting a phone call saying there is a warrant out for your arrest, for something you never did.
That’s what happened to Savannah Law School Associate Professor Elizabeth Berenguer just a few days ago; the scammers had everything from her former addresses to her entire social security number.
As a former public defender and criminal defense attorney, Berenguer knows all about hoaxes like this one; so even though she was convinced from the beginning it was bogus, she said it still felt like her identity and personal information were seriously compromised.
“Frankly, anytime someone says there’s a warrant for your arrest your heart kind of goes ‘whoa, what is happening here?’,” said Berenguer. “But what really scared me was I was thinking about how many other people this person is probably calling.”
Berenguer hung up the phone and called her credit card companies as well as the IRS to report the scam and she said if you ever end up in a similar situation, flip the script, you start asking the questions.
“Ask for a copy of the arrest warrant, ask to speak to the supervisor, ask to speak to the investigator, the person you’re talking to, ask for their investigator number for their name, what will generally happen is the person will hang up the phone.”
We’ve had several people from around the Coastal Empire calling the station telling us they’ve had similar calls over the last few days.
According to the IRS website, if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
- You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Scams and Rip Offs” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.