HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It's "tax time" and for far too many, that means it's "scam time." Here's a warning for you about a con game going around as financial predators pretend to be IRS agents.
"I was literally trembling," explains Chinita Smith, and for a good reason. Smith was on the phone with a convincing caller.
"He indicated I was in a lot of trouble with the Internal Revenue Service," adds Smith. "I owed a lot of money. An arrest warrant was going to be issued." She was shocked to answer her phone to someone identifying himself as "Officer Shawn Cooper from the IRS, the Internal Revenue Service."
Smith eventually asked the "official sounding" man if she could call him back.
"So he gave me a phone number, a Dallas phone number," explains Smith. She consulted her husband, calmed down and called back, this time recording the conversation and catching the con man on tape. The so-called IRS investigator seemed authentic.
"He provided a badge number," says Smith. "He was committed. He was doing his due diligence to make me fearful." Then suddenly, she says the con man caller was gone after Smith said "I'm going to have my husband, Federal Agent Jones, give you a call back and he immediately hung up."
"These types of IRS scams will rise during tax time," explains Leah Napoliello with the Houston Better Business Bureau. Napoliello says you will not receive an unsolicited call from the IRS.
"If the IRS needs to contact you, if you have unpaid taxes, for instance, they will contact you via regular mail. They will not call you, at all, they will not e-mail you," says Napoliello. She also says IRS imposters often use threats of arrest and tactics to appear legitimate such as giving a badge number or return phone number.
"If you receive that type of call and you're not sure if you owe taxes or not, then go to the IRS itself," recommends Napoliello. "Go to the website IRS.gov, get their contact information and call them and ask them if you do actually owe taxes."
Smith hopes her warning will also help save you from being scammed by these IRS impersonators.