Beware of the Newest IRS Scam: What to Tell Clients
Have you heard about the new high-level telephone scam targeting taxpayers and making the rounds all over the country?
The callers say they are IRS employees, but of course, they are not. The scammers use fake names and false identification to convince consumers that they're the real deal since they make the caller ID to show IRS. They even know a lot about a citizen on the other end of the line.
The con artist tells victims that they owe money to the federal agency and demand that it be paid promptly through a wire transfer or a pre-loaded debit card. If a target refuses, they receive threats like an arrest or suspension of a driver's license. The con artist becomes hostile and insulting. Some victims hear the promise of a refund to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone goes unanswered, the scammer leaves an "urgent" callback.
Other ways the scam works is to send a false IRS form (CP 2000) and claim that the income reported on the return does not match the income stated by an employer or even Social Security. The con artist claims this has to do with the Affordable Care Act. They hope to worry and confuse you and make you feel vulnerable. They'll follow-up with emails with attached forms, text messages, and more calls in hopes to scare you. The scammers want to retrieve your Social Security number, date of birth, and other personal data to use and steal your identity. They will offer a fake "protection plan" to get your credit card number.
Please remember - the IRS will never contact you to collect overdue taxes by an email, text message, or a phone call. Other things the IRS will never do:
- Call and require instant payment. The IRS will never make you buy a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The federal agency will mail the bill if you owe taxes.
- The IRS will never threaten to call local authorities and the police to arrest you for the outstanding debt.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Get a credit or debit card number over the phone.
If you receive an email, text messages, mail or even live calls concerning money you owe, do not respond. Just hang up the telephone. If you get a "CP 2000" form in the mail, call the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to confirm it is a scam. The federal agency saw close to 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents in the 2016 tax season, so beware.
If you click on the link that's in the email, it leads you to a website designed to emulate the official-looking IRS.gov website. While at the fake site, they ask for your Social Security number and more personal data and use the information to file a false tax return. The fake website may carry malware, which infects the citizen's computer to allow the con artist to access private archives or track keystrokes to gain information.
The threat remains high, but variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round.
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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