A sophisticated phone scam continues to plague area residents. The callers claim to be IRS employees, and use fake names and bogus identification badge numbers. The scammers may also know a lot about their targets, and can usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. The call may also be pre-recorded.

The victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.

In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered the scammers often leave an ‘urgent’ callback request.

When you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS and notifying you that back taxes are due, do not provide them any personal information. Remember if you have caller ID and you don’t know the number displayed, do not answer the phone. Let the call go to your voicemail/answering machine and you will decrease your chances of becoming a victim.

Note that the IRS does not:

– Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

– Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.

– Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business license, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.

If you or a loved one have received one of these calls, and are at a monetary loss, you can report IRS scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.