6 On Your Side Answers: How to watch out for tax collection phone scams

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Internal Revenue Service is warning people about a telephone tax scam that continues to grow.

It first popped up about five months ago, but the IRS says thousands of people have become victims.

Sandra in Knoxville asks: “Their caller ID read the IRS. They sounded so convincing. Who are these people?”

Fake IRS representatives are back at it again. Even though the tax season ended months ago, these tax scams pop up year round.

While the real Internal Revenue Service has shifted most of its operations online, con artists are relying on the telephone. The government reports 90,000 complaints to the IRS Scam Hotline in the last 12 months.

The IRS says scammers are calling, pretending to be IRS agents demanding money they claim is due the Federal Treasury.

These fake IRS representatives are targeting elderly people who are told they owe taxes and must pay using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

The con artists threaten people, saying if they don’t pay up immediately, they may face jail time or have their driver’s license revoked.

Through mid-August of this year, the government’s treasury inspector reports an estimated $5 million has been handed over, by unsuspecting victims, to these fake IRS representatives.

They pull off their scam by being able to display information on your caller ID that indicates it’s the IRS on the phone.

The real IRS usually first contacts people by mail, not by phone, about unpaid taxes. Its agents will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.

If you think you might owe federal taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829 1040. At that number, the IRS representative can verify your tax liability and answer your payment questions.

You can see Don Dare’s 6 On Your Side Answers every Tuesday and Thursday on 6 News at 4:00. If you have a question you can send Don an email at ddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side hotline at (865) 633-5974.

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