(Gillette, Wyo.) This week a 43 year old man received a phone call that he owed $1400 in back taxes. The caller informed him he would need to give up his personal information in order to help resolve the situation, or else face arrest.The victim obliged by giving the caller his social security number. He then called the Campbell County Sheriff's Office, who told the man to contact the IRS and let them know his identity had just been compromised. Tax scams aren't uncommon this time of year. In 2015, over 350,000 people were targeted by a similar phone call, and thousands fell for it, losing $15.5 million collectively. The IRS just recently issued a reminder that scams by telephone have increased. Scammers "use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling," according to the IRS website
You should know that the IRS never makes these sorts of phone calls. They
send written warnings and bills if you *do* owe money. They give you the
chance to appeal what you owe. They don't require you to send money right
away or put cash on a prepaid debit card.
Most importantly, the IRS would never threaten to get police involved or
have you arrested for non-payment.
If you receive one of these suspicious phone calls (or emails) -- either
telling you that you owe back tax money or you have mysteriously *earned*
back tax money -- hang up. If you know for sure you don't owe anything,
report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)
at 1-800-366-4484, or online at their website .
If you get one of these calls and you're unsure if you owe money, you can
call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. They will help you figure out your account
and work with you on payment plans if you actually do owe anything.
In general, if anyone calls you out of the blue, either claiming to be a
government organization, your bank, your credit card company, etc. and they
want you to give them personal information: ask them for a case number and
then hang up and call the official phone number on the back of your card or
on your statement. This is the best way to ensure that the phone call was
*Feature photo provided by Flickr user Ken Teegardin
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