BBB: Beware of callers claiming you owe money to IRS

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - People pretending to work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are preying on the fears of taxpayers.

The suspects will call you and tell you that you owe the government and to put the money onto a pre-loaded debit card or make a wire transfer. If you don't cooperate, they threaten to have your driver's and/or business license revoked, or threaten you with jail time.

In this day and age, with all of the fraudulent internet and phone schemes, folks say they think it's easy to avoid becoming a victim. "They would have to show me some ID. So it probably wouldn't work with me," says Jeanette Evans, a taxpayer in Conway.

"I would think I would need a letter first from the government that said I owe something," says taxpayer Yolanda Grace.

But federal officials are calling it the largest report of fake phone calls it has ever seen. The IRS has received more than 20,000 reports of the crime and $1 million has already been stolen.

"It's strictly emotional," says the president of the Better Business Bureau Coastal Carolinas, Cathy Graham. "That's how scams work, they work on people's emotions and fear is probably one of the biggest ones."

Graham says she's received a few calls from the public that it's happening here in the Grand Strand.

"The IRS is never going to ask you to wire them money," she says. "If you were in trouble with the IRS, it's going to go through a series of letters and meetings and that sort of thing."

But be on your toes, because the calls are convincing. The person you speak with is often armed with the last four digits of your social security number. They spoof the IRS toll free number so that it appears on your caller ID and sometimes they'll send an email to back up their bogus claims.

The bottom line is if you get the call, hang up and laugh. Then report it to Internet Crime Complaint Center and or the Better Business Bureau.

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