MUSKOGEE, Okla. - A woman says she picked up the phone to someone telling her she needed to pay money or go to jail after filing her taxes improperly.
Billie Estes said she got the call Monday evening.
“I was like scared to go home, I was going to call my son up to see if I could get a loan to pay it.”
The man on the other end of the phone said he was with the IRS, gave his badge number and the number for the case he said the IRS had against her.
“He says what we can do is, you owe $3,500. You can pay 3 percent of it and that will stop the arrest warrant."
He said she could pay the IRS agent and police officer that would be at her door, or be taken away in handcuffs; reciting her address back to her.
“I was like, what am I going to do?”
She hung up the phone and got two voicemails, "An Internal Revenue Service Agent is waiting on your call back," it said.
2 Works for You called the numbers back.
One was out of service, and the other left a busy tone.
A spokesperson for the IRS told 2 Works for You this scam has been happening for years, calling it pervasive and sophisticated.
They said the red flags are always the same.
1. The IRS will never call out of the blue.
They will always send mail first if there's an issue.
2. They'll never ask for personally identifiable information over the phone like a credit card number or pin number.
3. If you're surprised to be hearing from the IRS chances are it's not the IRS.
“They are threatening, and I’m like oh wow, I just don’t want to go to jail, you know, I’ve never been arrested. I was scared.”
Estes said she had some red flags of her own, and ended up not giving them any money.
She called her son in a panic.
“He said, mom you’re just gullible!"
But she's worried about veterans or the elderly who she thinks can be vulnerable to these types of scams.
“I worry about somebody having a heart attack, or it’s the last straw, so you just never know. That’s what scares me about that."
According to the IRS there have already been 57 victims in the state losing $180,000.
The IRS said anyone can be a target, but they try to make sure recent immigrants and the elderly are aware of the scams since they appear to be the most vulnerable.
If this has happened to you you can call the Treasury Inspector General at (800) 366-4484, or visit their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page.
They say if you receive one of these calls don't give out any information, hang up immediately and report it.
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