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BBB: Too many consumers still falling for scammers impersonating IRS

BBB: Too many consumers still falling for scammers impersonating IRS

As folks get into the spirit of the season it's easy to let your guard down, opening the door for scammers claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to trick you into giving them money.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) told Action News that seven percent of last year's Scam Tracker reports were about these calls, 3,500 in all.

Consumer advocates say scammers are preying on people's fear of winding up on the wrong side of the law.

That's why the IRS is speaking out, hoping to catch folks attention and stop scammers in their tracks.

Danielle Kane with the Better Business Bureau says it's national Tax Security Awareness Week, a time for taxpayers to take steps protecting their tax data and identities.

She says the IRS wants folks to be especially vigilant because scammers love the holidays, so you need to know what they're after.

"Scammers are always after your credit card information, financial documents, even your tax related documents because this is a way for them to collect your tax return," she says even the IRS is warning folks about the scams. "Their page is chock-full, because they're really cracking down on this."

Kane says they get a lot of calls from people saying someone claiming the be the IRS called to tell them they're in trouble.

Scammers threaten victims, saying the police will come to their home if they don't follow their instructions.

Sgt. Aaron Clem with the Kennewick Police says the threats are bogus, but the loss is very real.

"They require the person to either send them money," Clem said. "Or go to the store and pick up iTunes cards, Green dot cards, any kind of card."

Clem says the bad guys want the numbers on the back of the card you just bought.

Once they get those they've got your money, leaving you with a worthless card.

That's why Clem wants to make it very clear.

"Agencies are not going to call you on the phone, and tell you that you owe money and threaten to put you in jail," he explained. "That's not the way it works."

Kane says wants people to know IRS doesn't call and leave threatening voicemails.

"They're not even going to email you," she said. "They'll only contact you by postal mail. If you do owe money on your taxes, you'll get a letter."

Aside from hanging up on scammers, Clem says there's one more thing you need to do: spread the word.

"Not everybody is going to see our social media postings about it," the police sergeant explained. "If you see this, please have conversations with your family members and friends so we can spread awareness of this."

Both Kane and Clem want it repeated that the IRS doesn't threaten people with arrest, they don't send anyone to come get you, and if they need to contact you it'll be through snail mail.

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