WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - We are a long way from tax season, but a West Chester man says scammers posing as the IRS are on the prowl.
The Better Business Bureau office in Cincinnati says they're seeing plenty of the same.
"Complaints are filing in on BBB's ScamTracker about a call from the IRS stating consumers will be jailed or fined for fee owed to them if they don't pay up immediately," the BBB said in a statement to FOX19 NOW on Tuesday.
Joseph Andreotta of West Chester says he's had several unnerving calls from people saying they're with the IRS.
"They're saying the IRS is piling up a case against me. That's what they're saying. They even have a case number for me," Andreotta told FOX19 NOW.
He says he has had at least four phone calls like this over the course of the last few months.
"I got a little concerned. The IRS? That's why I hung up. I kind of thought it just didn't sound right," Andreotta said.
That's because it's likely a scam, and it's one the Better Business Bureau has seen lately.
The name of the game is to bilk people out of personal information and money.
"It's a little scary at first. I'll admit that. It was to me. I got me thinking, 'What's going on,'" Andreotta said.
He's not alone.
We checked the BBB ScamTracker to see the other complaints. A quick search revealed at least four people around here say they've received calls of possible tax collection scams in the last few days. Two people say scammers are calling them posing as the IRS.
"I wasn't the only one. My daughter got one a while back," Andreotta told FOX19 NOW.
The BBB sent FOX19 NOW a list of things to look out for when taking one of these calls.
They say 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.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- The BBB says oftentimes these scammers may become aggressive and try to convince you to pay the alleged fine by wiring money or purchasing prepaid cards.
As for Andreotta, he has not given up any money or personal information.
"Advice is, if someone says they're from the IRS, hang up. They're not from the IRS," Andreotta said.
If you do get a call from someone posing as an IRS representative or another government agency, the BBB recommends:
- Hang up. Never give any personal information over the phone.
- Report the incident to the IRS on their website as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
- Report the incident to the BBB ScamTracker, or call the BBB.