Consumer Alert: IRS phone scams on the rise again

Posted: Updated:

Phony IRS phone calls are on the rise again, and new collection procedures could make it easier for scam artists to find victims.

Some of the calls are almost comical, featuring robotic voices speaking broken English, but there's nothing funny if you're one of the victims.

The new rash of scam calls is especially dangerous because it's the first since the IRS began using collection agencies that may actually call you. The good news is that the IRS says it's easy to spot the fake calls.

"There's not going to be that demand for money, and the threatening tactics," says IRS special agent Jonathan Larsen. "We will not show up and arrest you this afternoon if you do not make immediate payment. That's just not how the IRS operates."

Larsen also says that if you owe back taxes, you'll get several letters first, before you're referred to collection. If you're not sure about a caller, tell them to put everything in writing. And never give out personal information; if they're really from the IRS, they should know who you are.

The biggest clue: pay attention to how the caller wants you to pay. The IRS will only want checks made out to the Department of Treasury. If the caller asks you to do anything else, like wire money or use gift cards, hang up.

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