MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - One of the most common calls we got to our 12 News Defenders phone bank Monday night was about IRS scams, and people calling to say you owe taxes immediately and you must pay up or be arrested.
AARP of Alabama has seen a number of its clients getting repeated calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, demanding money, or what may be even more dangerous, personal information, like your social security number. It's an attempt at identity theft, which could leave you with years of problems.
"Anytime someone steals your social security number, they basically have your identity in their power and they can use that against you and use it to their financial benefit," said Jamie Harding with AARP of Alabama. "This can go on 5, 6, 7 years. The important thing to do if you believe that someone has filed a tax return in your name or using your social security number, contact the IRS right away,"
Kathy Kroner got one of those calls recently.
"The gentlemen asked who I was, he told me his name was Greg Smith, and he was with the internal revenue service, investigative division, that I was capable of giving him some information to verify I was who I was," Kroner described the call. "In the end, it was if I don't pay so much money to them, Western Union or give them access to my account, they're going to send someone out to have me arrested,"
The IRS wants you to know a phone call will never be its first line of communication with you; they will always send a letter first. The IRS will also never demand that you pay them immediately, and it will never threaten to bring in local police or any other law enforcement officer.
If you have experienced any of those "scare tactics", there are several places you should report them:
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
- Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.