IRS scams target taxpayers with threats, demanding money

KENNER, LA (WVUE) - Tax season can be a stressful time, and scammers are taking advantage.

The Internal Revenue Service warns taxpayers of evolving phishing schemes looking to steal personal information and money.

"We've had calls from individuals that have actually sent thousands and thousands of dollars away,"  said Better Business Bureau Vice President Cynthia Albert.

One Good Samaritan decided to warn others after getting a call claiming to be from the IRS.

The recording said: "This call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case filed, please call immediately on our department number."

"I was like, what do you mean legal proceedings? Like, oh my God, what did I do wrong? And then I had to breathe and calm down and then go, alright no. They're not going to call me, they're not going to call me. They're going to send me a letter if something's wrong," Christine Hurlbut said.

She decided to google the number.

"I saw that beware, that this is a scam, that they're going to be asking you for money," Hurlbut said.

She called the number back, and said someone actually answered, "Internal Revenue Service."

"They had a very thick, foreign accent. Not sure where, but I could just tell it wasn't someone that was from here," Hurlbut said.

The Better Business Bureau said that's usually the case.

"Most of these calls at this point are coming out of the United States, so that's why it's even more difficult," Albert said.

After Hurlbut posted the warning on the Nextdoor app, dozens of people responded, saying they got the same call.

"I know I'm probably not the only one whose called, so I just wanted to give a hey, little PSA this is what happened to me, just be careful. If you see something from this number, delete it don't answer it," Hurlbut said.

If they ask to wire money or pay with a prepaid card immediately, the BBB said chances are, it's a scam.

"If you don't send it right away, we're going to have the sheriff over there, and they'll arrest you. It's possible they can put a lean on your house, they'll take your house away, and they keep going on and on," Albert said.

However, the IRS will never call and demand immediate payment or threaten taxpayers.

"My dad's 76 years old, and there are sometimes that he forgets things, and my biggest concern was, if it shook me, even if just for a second, I just thought oh my gosh what if he gets this phone call? Is he actually going to believe it?" Hurlbut said.

The BBB said while the elderly used to be targeted, now all ages are falling victim.

If you do get these calls, report it to the police, BBB and IRS.

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