Even the FCC Chairman Gets IRS Scam Robocalls

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

No one is safe from robocalls! Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler confessed in a Senate oversight hearing on Wednesday that his family was shaken by an IRS scam call on their home phone.

IRS scam calls are particularly common this time of year. Scammers often pretend to be representatives of the Internal Revenue Service or the local police. They typically demand an upfront payment or personal financial information to pay a fictional tax bill. Oftentimes, they use an app or software to make it appear as if they are actually calling from the IRS. So far, consumers have lost an estimated $26 million to this scam.

We’ve heard from consumers all over the country about these calls. Now, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has shared his story. (skip to 1:11:15) Under questioning about unwanted calls from Sen. Bill Nelson, Chairman Wheeler interjected that he’s “actually been victimized by this.” Chairman Wheeler explains:

I came home a couple of weeks ago, and my wife says to me, ‘The IRS is calling and saying we owe them money!’ I said, ‘This was news to me.’ . . . We got the information and I took it to our enforcement bureau and they started drilling down. This was a US number, but it was coming from abroad, and we couldn’t get to it. So believe me, we understand.

What’s particularly frustrating about this story is that even the FCC has difficulty stopping these scammers. That’s why we need to make available free tools for all consumers that will automatically block these calls. Click here to sign the petition to End Robocalls!

In the meantime, we encourage you to take steps to protect yourself from IRS scam calls. Please click here for our step-by-step tips on dealing with IRS scam calls. The IRS also has extensive information and advice here. There are also some tools on the market that you can use to protect yourself from robocalls – click here for our review of devices for home phones, and here for a list of cell phone apps.

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