RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many people dread doing their taxes, but instead of fearing Uncle Sam you should be on alert for crooks trying to steal your money or your identity. The IRS says it's seeing an increase in phone scams.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with the agency, there is a good chance it's a scam. Mark Hanson with the IRS says more and more, criminals are hoping to fool you with bogus phone calls.
"They have some of the taxpayer's personal information to include the name, part of or the entire Social Security Number and they are demanding payment from the taxpayer, saying this person owes the IRS money," Hanson says.
He says it's not clear how these crooks are getting their hands on that personal information. More importantly, you should know the calls are not legitimate.
"People are falling for it unfortunately, which is why it is so important for us to try and get the word out to tax payers," Hanson says.
While the phone scams are on the rise, the IRS says don't forget about those fake emails pretending to be from the agency. Whether it's by email or the phone, if you fall for one of these scams, you're in for a major headache.
"There are steps that can be taken to help resolve the issue, but one thing that I have to say is that it can be a very frustrating process for the taxpayer. It can take up to around 180 days to get your money if somebody steals your tax refund," Hanson explains.
These phony calls can be quite convincing, crooks will threaten to arrest you or take your license. No matter how convincing, never give in. Remember the IRS, doesn't initiate contact this way. Usually you will get something in the mail and even then, you should do your research.
Your safest bet, contact the IRS yourself. Get the number from the official website, Irs.gov. On the site, you will also find other helpful tips and red flags that will indicate that you may be involved in a scam.
"Probably one of the most important steps that can be taken is by the taxpayer. Don't allow your sensitive information to be compromised to the best of your ability," Hanson warns. Another tip, don't trust your Caller ID. Scammers can make it appear the IRS is calling.