LANSING, MI (WLNS)- The phone rings, and the person on the other line claims they’re from the IRS, and they have some bad news.
“That I owed money and I’d have to pay it immediately or I’d go to jail.” Jean Lodge said, she received a call from a scammer demanding money, but little did they know she’s worked for H & R Block for more than six years.
“I said to them, well you know what, I know that this is not the Treasury Department because I know that they never call a person.” Lodge said.
While Lodge received that call three months ago, today a client called with the same situation.
According to the IRS tax scams are on the rise.
Last tax season, more than 90 thousand complaints were filed to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Of those complaints about 5 million dollars were stolen through tax scams.
According to officials this tax season could be even worse.
“These scams present themselves in a variety of ways” Michigan State Police Trooper Matt Warzywak said.
According to Trooper Warzywak scams are a growing trend.
Many scammers threaten to send police if a person doesn’t pay immediately, but according to Warzywak it’s a scare tactic that the IRS would never do.
“They don’t do correspondence via telephone, in the sense that they aren’t going to threaten coming out to their residence.” Warzywak said.
And it isn’t just fake phone calls, Warzywak has also investigated emails with phoney IRS letterhead.
“They might be requested to give out information or click on a link. My advice is don’t click on any links don’t send on any information just delete it.” Warzywak said.
To protect yourself from a tax scam, never give out any personal account information, credit card numbers, or your social security number over the phone or via email.
According to Lodge, if the IRS want to get a hold of you, they will do it through the mail first.
The IRS does not contact anyone by phone. What they do is they send correspondence first then if they need to talk to you then they have you call them.” Lodge said.
If you do get a call from a scammer, you can make a report at https://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/ig/Pages/default.aspx.
In addition you can contact Michigan State Police.
Other scams include people claiming to be from Consumer’s Energy and also demanding immediate payment. Police remind you to double check where that number is coming from.