INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s a tax scam that just won’t go away.
You may have heard of it: a person calls you, claiming to be with the IRS. They’re threatening, and they’re demanding money – or else.
A spokesperson for the IRS says the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) ranked Indiana as 24th in the country for this scam.
They say they’ve recorded over $310,192 that Hoosiers have been scammed out of.
The spokesperson says this particular scam has been around for several years: first scammers tried to target the elderly, people who spoke English as a second language – and now they say they target just about anyone who’ll answer the phone.
Nationwide, the TIGTA says they’ve received 736,000 scam reports since October of 2013.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana says this happens at all times of the year.
“That’s not how the IRS is going to contact you. Hang up immediately, it’s a scam,” explained Tim Maniscalo, President and CEO of the BBB in central Indiana.
Officials say you’ll need to watch for new tricks nowadays as well, because thieves are trying “spoofing,” where they alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is really calling. Thieves may also use official IRS letterhead or actual IRS addresses.
An IRS spokesperson says they will not call first to ask for payment: first they send bills in the mail.
They recommend hanging up if you get these phones calls and then reporting them.
If you think you may owe money, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
The Better Business Bureau has set up a Scam Tracker on their website so you can see all the scams reported and what may be happening in your area.
Also – officials warn – be careful who you choose to prepare your taxes.
E-filing is actually the safest way to do your taxes.
If you use a tax preparer, you can go to the IRS’ website or check the Better Business Bureau for legitimate tax preparers.
Officials also say to watch where your money goes.
“If you are filing with a tax preparer, make sure if you’re getting refund: that that money is going into your bank account, not someone else’s,” said Maniscalo. “That’s a way for the tax preparer to get money and potentially take money from you. If you owe the tax preparer money, pay those fees separately, don’t have him take those out of the taxes.”
If you’re not sure where to go for taxes, the IRS also offers free tax prep if you are elderly, disabled, speak limited English, or make less than $54,000 a year.For more on that, click here.