Tax filing season began Tuesday, with a warning from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office about an Internal Revenue Service telephone scam targeting taxpayers.
Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. They sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a preloaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. The caller may become hostile or insulting.
CCSO reminds people that the IRS will never:
* 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;
* or threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, the IRS advises you to make a report to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta
CCSO advises taxpayers to file taxes as soon as possible, before a criminal does. This is the No. 1 way identity is stolen, accounting for 31 percent of all ID theft complaints. The filing deadline this year is April 18.