RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A warning from the Internal Revenue Service, right at the start of Tax Season: Don't believe the con if you get a scam call.
Those calls threaten to throw you in jail and freeze your bank account if you don't pay off your back taxes right now.
"I think it's really cruel to try to trick people like that," said Meg, who only wanted to be identified by her first name. She's been getting calls from imposters every day for nearly a week now, scammers using fake names and IRS badge numbers.
Some can even recite the last four digits of your Social Security number. They told Meg she had been audited for the last five years and owes $1,900 in taxes. Pay now or suffer the penalties.
"I told him that's impossible because I pay my taxes on time every year. I said there's no way I owe money," she said. "He said yes you do and if you don't agree to settle out of court, I'll have to put out a warrant for your arrest."
They keep calling until they find the perfect prey, someone vulnerable and in financial trouble. The Better Business Bureau says there are reports of people getting taken for lots of money.
"They're going to tell you that we're going to send an agent out there to arrest you and put you in handcuffs, drag you away in front of your kids," said BBB's Tom Gallagher. "They'll create a picture for you. It is not true. It is not accurate. Don't believe it. Don't fall for it."
Meg says she played along but knew it was scam. "It kind of made me mad just because I know that not everybody is going to realize that, which is why I kept calling them back trying to annoy them and tie up their phone lines," she said.
It's best not to engage them though. Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers this way and they don't ask for personal or financial information. You will never be asked to get a pre-paid debit card or to wire money.
"If you get the call, ignore it. Hang up," Gallagher said. "The longer you talk to them the better the chance they are going to take you. Remember these people are pros. This is how they earn their living."