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ALERT: Don't fall for IRS phone scam

Posted at 5:04 PM, May 13, 2016

The Internal Revenue Service has put out a warning against impersonators who make threatening phone calls or emails to taxpayers.

There are several different versions of the message, but in most cases it's a phone call from someone claiming to be with the Tax Fraud Investigation unit of the IRS. 

“The reason you are receiving this pre-recorded message is to notify you the Internal Revenue Service has issued an arrest warrant against you.”

It may sound awfully familiar to you because people all across Tampa Bay and the nation are getting phone calls just like it.

Luis Perez said he received two of these calls within the past week alone.

“They say they have a warrant for my arrest because I owe money to the IRS and that we have to pay immediately,” Perez said.

The phone calls sound urgent. The IRS says it's all in an effort to victimize taxpayers.

Other versions of a phone call include a message saying: “The reason for this call is to inform you that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.”

In all scenarios, you’re asked to call a number, but it’s a ploy to get your money.

“Before we proceed in any legal prosecution my direct call back is (206) 451-5554."

Tampa resident Antowan Lindsay said he’s received several emails from scammers claiming similar things.

“At the bottom of my email, it was somewhat of an application. It asked for my name, my birth date and all kinds of personal information,” he said.

Both Perez and Lindsay knew the messages they received were scams, but unfortunately many people don’t.

According to the IRS, Floridians paid more than $1.5 million to scammers last year.

“It’s sad that people have to lower themselves to conning people out of money. Just get a job like everybody else.” Lindsay said.

So here’s what you need to know to keep this from happening to you.  

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
     
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
     
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

 

  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

 

  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

If you think you’re being targeted by an IRS scam:

  • Report it. Take down the number and any other information given to you by the scammers.
     
  • Call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 or go to the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” website and report it.

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do.  Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure.

Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.