MIAMI — Tax season is over. Still, many people in Wisconsin and beyond are getting calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. It can be scary because no one wants owe the government money. But you should ignore the call. It's a popular scam picking up steam once again.
The calls are similar. It's a message that's designed to intimidate you:
"This is Officer Adam Mead calling you from the Internal Revenue Service, Tax Reporting Department. This call is to inform you that we have a legal lawsuit filed against your name. It’s regarding some tax fraud and we are just about to issue an arrest warrant."
Con-artists are leaving the messages for thousands of people nationwide.
"When a professional scammer calls you and tells you that you owe money for taxes or for products that you ordered and you never paid for -- and they use fear as a tactic to get you to pay for something that you don’t really owe," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Blanca Alvarez.
If victims want to avoid an arrest warrant, they're instructed to call back and set up a payment plan.
Postal inspectors say these scam artists can be very aggressive and technology is helping the scammers.
"They can find your house on Google Earth or on any other map program online. Often times, they can zoom in to see if you have a pool in your background or if there’s a car parked in your driveway and they can use that information against you to make you believe that they are in the neighborhood or they are local," Alvarez said.
However, there are red flags.
"The police will never call you to tell you there are going to arrest you. If there is an arrest warrant with your name on it, they'll just come and arrest you. They won't call you to tell you that they are coming," advised Alvarez.
In addition, never give out any personal information over the phone. If you are worried you owe money, take the time to look into it.
"Don't feel pressured into making a decision immediately. Research the company, take the person's name and telephone number down and the company name. Do research and then contact the company directly," Alvarez said.
Also, just because the caller leaves a number with a Washington D.C. area code does not mean they're calling from that area. These days, scammers can simply buy a phone number — it's call spoofing.
There are reports of similar calls coming from other government agencies, not just the IRS, including the U.S. Treasury Department. These are scam calls too. Government officials will never call about taxes or unpaid loans. They also won't ask you to wire money or send them a prepaid debit card.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has several tips on how to recognize scams like these. The FTC also gives you the chance to report the calls to help them investigate. You can learn more about that HERE.