IRS warns consumers to be aware of phone scams as tax season heats up

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

PHOENIX — With tax season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service is advising all taxpayers to be cautious with thieves out there trying to rip you off.

According to IRS Special Agent Brian Watson, thieves have stolen an estimated $64 million from unsuspecting taxpayers just by dialing the phone and using intimidation tactics.

Oftentimes the caller is hostile and threatening.

Scammers have gone so far as to threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups if a taxpayer fails to pay the caller. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, Watson has a simple answer, hang up.

“The IRS does not call people up and demand money over the phone and we’re not going to threaten arrest or deportation or a lawsuit,” Watson said.

The IRS also does not contact taxpayers through social media or text messages.

The tax collection agency strongly urges you to never give out personal banking information or credit or debit card numbers over the phone to strangers claiming to be from the IRS.

Many taxpayers use a private firm to prepare their taxes. When it comes to using a tax preparer, Watson said it’s best to ask others.

“You want someone with a good reputation, who does quality work, that you can trust and is well established,” he said.

Watson said if the IRS needs to reach you, they will simply use the postal service.

This year, tax forms for federal filers are due April 17.