MANCHESTER - Even if you owe taxes, the IRS is not likely to call you on the phone. But that's not the case for scammers looking to intimidate you into paying up -- even if you don't owe anything.
James Owen, of Manchester, was one person who heard from these scammers.
"You are talking to the IRS officer Gary Jones," a recording of the conversation registers. "You have to pay the amount of money to the IRS. And what's the amount? $10,500. $10,500?"
And if he doesn't pay up, the scammer tells Owen he could wind up behind bars.
"We are going to lien on your assets, your accounts will be frozen, and we are going to issue an arrest warrant against you," Owens was told.
It's not an unfamiliar ruse, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which is warning taxpayers not to fall for these threats and to be alert to a second scam when the caller claims to be from the IRS saying they need your personal information in order to send you a tax refund -- even if the caller ID suggests it is the phone number of the federal agency.
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation, lawsuit or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling. The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail. Don’t let yourself get involved in a tax scam or be bullied by a con artists,” said David D. Stewart, a spokesman for the IRS.
The IRS always sends out a bill and taxpayers have a chance to dispute it. They do not ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone and they won't threaten to lock you up.
Owen was wise and gave the scammer a bit of surprise - letting the caller know he'd recorded the call.
"I'm going to post this recorded call that I've been doing for the last 10 minutes right on to the Internet to make sure people know not to listen to your crap," he told the scammer. And he did.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
• If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
• If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.