If you receive a call from someone claiming to work at the Internal Revenue Service, beware: it could be a scam.
Phone scams are on top of the agency's list of "Dirty Dozen" tax scams. California is the state that suffers the most from these scams, where the caller convinces someone to fork over money for a made-up debt to the IRS.
Several phone scam cases have been reported in Southern California since last Tax Day.
Local news from across Southern California
Scammers called at least 50 people in Sierra Madre on Friday, April 3. A 61-year-old woman, Enayet Bargen, fell victim to the scam and gave the thieves $4,000, while a second victim lost $2,000.
In March, an Orange County resident, Lori Whalen, received a call telling her she owed $3,845.24 in back taxes. She was told her home and 401k would be taken away by the government if she didn't pay.
A Glendora couple received a call in November 2014 accusing them of fraud and threatening to call police. Joy and Carl Specht called the IRS directly, who informed the couple they were not in trouble.
The IRS lists five ways to identify a fake call, because the agency will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.