Kyle Roder recently received an urgent voicemail from the Internal Revenue Service detailing his imminent arrest if he didn’t immediately call back.
Fortunately, Roder — a public information officer at the Eau Claire Police Department in Wisconsin — knew he wasn’t on the IRS’ most wanted list.
When he called the number back, Officer Roder recorded his entire exchange with the scammer — who requested his personal information, including his address — and shared it to Facebook. The clip has since gone viral.
“We put it out there thinking maybe the local community would see it and understand that there’s a scam going around,” Roder tells PEOPLE. “We wanted to show: This is what it looks like, so that you don’t have to go through it.”
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He adds, “Instead it’s gone much farther, and when we get that discussion and those comments, that just means that many more people are aware of the scam nationally and internationally, so that we don’t have more victims.”
Roder explains what you need to know about scam IRS calls.
What Are Some Easy Signs to Look for That Indicate a Scam Call?
“Most companies are not going to going to cold call you and threaten you as the IRS scam typically does. The IRS is not going to call you,” Roder says. “They’re not going to elicit that fear from you. That’s what all scams do, they play off of some type of an emotion — whether it’s fear or another factor.
“If you’re getting a call or you’re getting an email that’s ‘very urgent,’ be careful of that.”
Will Police Ever Arrest Someone for the IRS?
That’s typically how it works, Roder says.
“We’re going to work with the IRS on legitimate cases, but that’s not our area, and it’s not done on a practical basis,” he sys. “We will occasionally assist agencies but it’s very rare.”
What Should You Do If You Realize You’re on a Scam Call?
Easy: “The best way to react in any scam if it’s on the phone is to hang up or not answer at all,” Roder says.
“If it’s online, avoid clicking into anything suspicious or pushing any buttons,” he says.
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Roder adds, “The more that you talk to somebody, you could be providing information without knowing it — no matter how savvy you think you might be.”
For example, he says, “Some of these calls, they may be recording your voice so they can use that against you to obtain personal information or financial information in future. All they’re asking for is you to say ‘yes,’ or you to say a word.”
What If the Number Looks Familiar?
“That’s one of the tough things,” Roder says. “Now they can spoof numbers using a computer phone or a computer program or software. They can make it look like they are calling from the local police department.”
The safest bet, he says, is always: “If you don’t know the number, don’t answer it.”
Can You Report a Scam Caller?
“It’s also good for us to know as a local municipal police department,” he says. “Typically, we get calls on a daily basis on these.”
“If it’s something we haven’t seen before, we can put it on citizen’s radars,” he continues. “We use social media — Facebook, Twitter — and local news media to put this information out there. The more people who have knowledge of it, and hear what’s going on, the less victims we’re going to have.”