IRS warns of phone scams aimed at duping taxpayers out of money

Tax filing season has yet to begin, but federal investigators say they are receiving reports of con artists that are making IRS impersonation phone calls to demand money from taxpayers.

Valley resident Alex Ramirez got a message on his cell phone from someone claiming to be with the IRS.

“I received a call. I didn’t answer it because I didn’t recognize the number,” Ramirez said. “And they left a voicemail message. It was a call from the IRS saying that they had a lawsuit against me, and if I wanted more information that I had to call a certain number.”

He didn’t call back, which is something not many would have done.

“First I was a little worried, you know,” Ramirez said. “And then after a while I started thinking about it then I remembered about all the scams that people are going through.”

Bill Brunson, spokesman for the IRS, said the agency would never call a taxpayer about an issue. The taxpayer would be notified by mail. He said the scam caller is impersonating the IRS and tries to con the victim for money.

“That you, the intended victim, owe taxes,” Brunson said. “You need to pay these taxes by a specific method with either a wire transfer or direct payment card. Once you purchase this item, the tax scammer can get the information from you, so they can immediately drain that account.”

Brunson said he’s seeing this type of scam more and more.

“Whenever a person buys into a particular tax scam, then it’s like a feeding frenzy and unfortunately, it will cause it to continue to be still there.”

The IRS said in a news release that 4,550 victims have paid more than a total of $23 million nationwide.

Ramirez hopes to help other potential victims.

“I would say just be careful and make sure that you know what’s going on with all these scams, because people are getting scammed left and right, especially with the holidays coming.”

If you get an unexpected call from someone claiming to be with the IRS and demand immediate payment, hang up the phone and report it.

To get more information on these types of scams, log in to the IRS website at www.irs.gov.