The Internal Revenue Service is battling a nationwide scam where consumer are being harassed into paying taxes they don't owe by scammer who are using fake caller IDs.
This being tax season, scammers are using phone spoofing technology to pretend they are IRS agents.
At one time, consumers could count caller ID being correct because only telephone companies had the equipment and ability to assign them. But for as little as $10, anyone can employ services that not only change their appearance on caller ID but can alter voices and add background sound effects.
IRS spokesman Mark Hanson said scammers are using this caller ID-spoofing technology to say the call is coming from a legitimate IRS phone number. He said the scammer then puts pressure on consumers to pay owed taxes.
"They start threatening you," Hanson said. "They get nasty – they'll threaten your driver's license."
The biggest tip-off that it's a scam is that Hanson said the IRS won't call taxpayers demanding back taxes.
"The IRS doesn't do business this way. If the IRS needs to contact you, you're going to get a letter in the mail the good old fashioned way," Hanson explained. "On that notice you receive, there will be instructions for you to follow regarding information it needs from you, the taxpayers."
Another rip-off, Hanson warned, involves scammers who get you to give them your Social Security number so they can file a tax return in your name and get your refund.
"We've seen a surge in identity theft activity, and the agency is trying to address it in enforcement and trying to help the victims," Hanson said.
The IRS says its investigators have seen identify theft case increase by 66 percent in the last year or two. Hanson said if you suspect that you've been victimized, to notify the IRS immediately because it can take six months or more to straighten out.