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As the 2016 tax filing season begins heating up, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has seen a significant increase in the volume of phone scams during the past few weeks. According to the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, there have been nearly 3,000 victims who have lost an estimated $14 million. The states that have seen the most scammer activity include: California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

These scammers are often overseas and they can disguise their phone numbers to resemble that of the IRS or US Treasury’s Office. They prey on the most vulnerable, including the elderly and the newly arrived immigrants. Scammers are very demanding over the phone, instilling fear and shock among callers.

The IRS reminds people that they will NEVER: 

  • Call to demand immediate payment without billing you first in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay your taxes without having an opportunity to appeal what you owe.
  • Require a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for your personal financial information over the phone, such as credit or debit card numbers or bank account numbers.
  • Threaten to handcuff you and throw you in jail if you refuse to pay.

If you do receive a harassing phone call from one of these scammers, here is what the IRS recommends you do to protect yourself:

  • If you know you owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes, report the phone call to the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.treasury.gov/tigta/.

For more information on how to report a tax scam, visit www.irs.gov and type the keyword “scam” in the search box.