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Citizens report IRS phone scam

As Tax Day approaches, more citizens are reporting phone calls from people claiming to be IRS agents.

According to Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless, the callers are telling people that they owe money in back taxes and pressure them to send money.

“They are well versed in their abilities to scam people and even threaten to have the ‘police’ come and arrest them or the FBI to arrest them,” Lawless said in a Facebook post. “Many elderly become very scared and provide them with personal information or with their hard earned money out of fear. The IRS does not work this way. If you or anyone you know receives one of the phone calls please hang up immediately.”

According to the IRS, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said they have received reports of about 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of more than 5,000 victims who have collectively paid more than $26.5 million as a result of the scam.

“Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us. There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment. Some schemes may say you’re entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you.”

According to the IRS website, here are five things the real IRS will never do that scammers will do:

•Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency 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.