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With tax deadline coming up, IRS warns of scams

Posted at 9:55 PM, Apr 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-16 00:55:01-04

With the deadline to file taxes approaching quickly, the IRS is warning people to beware of scammers. One of the most common ones, according to Special Agent Brian Watson, is the "IRS Impersonation Scam."

"It's basically someone who calls you up at home or on your cell phone and demands money over the phone," he said. "They claim to be from the IRS. They don't work for us, hang up on these people, that's not how we do business."

Special Agent Watson explained this particular scam has been going on for about 4 years, and has taken more than $55 million from victims across the country -- more than $1 million coming from Arizonans.

"The IRS does not call up and demand money over the phone," he said.

Scammers called Jeremy Deane twice over the course of the last week. One of the scammers left him a 20 second message. However, he figured out pretty quickly it wasn't the IRS on the line.

"I did call the second one back, just because I wanted to see -- I mean, I knew it wasn't real," Deane said. "But when they first answered, they go, "IRS?" I was like, yeah that's not real."

The automated message said,

"I need you or your attorney to return the call at my number, which is (606) 637-0316 -- I repeat -- (606) 637-0316. If you don't return the call, you will have to face the legal consequences."

"The message was so bland I just was like, it can't be true," Deane said. "I've heard of them before."

Special Agent Watson said these scammers may try and intimidate people into giving them money by threatening to arrest or deport them. They will often demand the money immediately, ask for credit card numbers over the phone, and ask for payment in a variety of forms.

"The scammers want the money immediately," he said. "So they want the GreenDot cards, the iTunes cards, anything where they can drain it immediately. They want the liquidity of it, that way you can't trace it back."

Furthermore -- one of the special agent's most emphasized points -- the IRS will not call anyone out of the blue.

"If we need to get a hold of you and there's a tax issue, you're going to get a letter in the mail explaining the situation," Watson said. "You get to challenge it, you get to know your taxpayer bill of rights."

His best advice if you get a call from someone claiming to be the IRS? Just hang up.

For a detailed list of other IRS scams, click here.