With the 2017 tax season in full swing, the IRS is warning all citizens and especially seniors that hardcore criminals impersonating IRS collectors are on the prowl and up to no good.

According to the IRS, some of the multitudes of scam callers trying to get unwary citizens to pay up for taxes they don’t owe are automated. But the vast majority of the calls are being made by human con artists that may even use phony IRS badge numbers and have personal information about their victims. Moreover, many of these bogus IRS collectors have even altered their caller IDs, making it look like the real the IRS is calling.

Told to pay up with preloaded debit card

Once they get a victim to listen, these bogus Tax Collectors then tell the person that if they don’t pay up immediately, using a preloaded debit card, they will be arrested and hauled off to tax jail. In some cases, the scammer will switch tactics and tell the target that they are entitled to a tax refund, to get personal information from them as a way to steal their identities.

“Don’t let the convincing tone of these scam calls lead you to provide personal or credit card information,” warned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in a statement. Instead, Koskinen recommends that citizens just hang up when they receive such bogus calls. Sadly, each tax season tax-collecting impersonators rip off millions of unsuspecting citizens, according to the IRS.

While the IRS does have a few authorized collectors working on its behalf, it always gives taxpayers and their representatives "written notice" when their account is being transferred to a private collection agency. Only after this first letter is sent to the taxpayer will the private collection agency follow up with a second letter.

Things IRS or authorized collectors will never do

In order to more readily recognize such scammers, the IRS has made up a list of things the IRS or its authorized collectors won’t do:

  • Call and demand immediate payment via gift card, wire transfer or prepaid debit card
  • Threaten to have you locked up if you don’t pay
  • Ask for debit or credit card numbers to be given on the phone
  • Demand that taxes be paid without question, offering no right of appeal

If you should get such a call, simply report it to the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting by calling: 800-366-4484