This past week I received a fraudulent call that was one of the most well-planned calls I have ever received. Luckily, nothing unfortunate happened as a result, but I thought I would share my experience so that in the future nothing like that happens to any other college student.
The call came around 10 AM last Wednesday while I was alone in my apartment. It was directed specifically towards college students and was part of the latest scam that the IRS is warning us about. Of course, I knew better than to fall for wiring any money over the phone, but the call became more and more convincing the longer I stayed on the call, that it got to the point where it took the bank employees a few minutes as well to realize that this was fraud.
Since college directories are often made public these days, it must have been quite easy for these fraudulent third parties to obtain information about my identity. They called knowing my full name, birthday, email address, and college that I attended. The number came from an Atlanta area code so I picked up. They said they were calling from a federal department, and at that point, I was immediately about to hang up 99% certain that it was fraud, but right before that I was transferred to a call that showed up on my caller ID as "911." In hindsight, I realized that 911 would never actually call, but in the moment I stayed on the line, as the lady sounded so convincing, telling me that this was the Police Department Calling and that this call was being recorded.
She went on in this manner for the next ten minutes, in an almost interrogating tone, talking about my lack of payment for the federal student tax #8863 of $7,900. I had heard about the educational form #8863 before but didn't realize at that moment that there isn't an actual tax for it. She kept pressing me about criminal charges, arrest warrants, and every time I tried to ask her a question such as why I didn't receive a mailed copy of this warning that I hadn't supposedly paid this tax, she had some fake answer right at her fingertips of a fake date that they sent the letter and that I just hadn't replied back to it.
I kept thinking to myself that this has to be fraud but had gotten so deep into this call that I refused to hang up. I told the lady that I had every right to call my parents, and she was like this call is recorded, so if you hang up it will show that you were non-compliant with what we are telling you. At that point, I was 99% sure this was fraud because a true call would never stop you from hanging up and calling your parent/guardian. So I stalled for as long as I could and rushed to the closest bank to report this issue. The moment the bank employee spoke to the woman, she hung up and never called again.
I later checked my caller ID and realized that the scam call that I had been transferred to was actually 1-911, and 1-1-911, which ended up showing as 911 on my caller ID. I was advised that the next time something like this happens, hang up right away even if it shows that you get transferred to a seemingly real caller ID. If you do think you owe any sort of taxes, you always have the option to call your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center and speak directly to them.Looking back, there were so many tell-tale signs of a fraudulent call, but sometimes you get stuck in a position where you can't always make the absolute best choice, which would have been to immediately hang up because you are scared at the nature of the call. I read some articles about this type of scam that is directed towards college students because we are often seen as the most vulnerable in these types of situations. My advice to anyone reading this is to educate yourselves on everything about the IRS and what types of schemes fraudulent parties tend to use because you never know when you may find yourself in a similar situation.