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Locals react to phone scam claiming to be IRS

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The Internal Revenue Service is warning consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers.

59News reporter Jessie Gavin found out how you can protect yourself.

The letters "IRS" are popping up on caller ID's and victims are told they owe money to the IRS which must be paid immediately through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. To those who don't immediately cooperate, the scammers often threaten arrest, deportation or other penalties.

"I would probably trust it, if it came on the caller ID as IRS I would probably trust it and be ignorant enough to give them all my information simply because it pops up IRS," Raleigh County resident Michael Lilly told us.

But others say they know anyone asking for private information over the phone is probably not who they say they are.

"I don't owe anything or even if I did, the IRS isn't going to call your house like that I don't think," another resident of Raleigh County, Carl Daniel said.

"I know I don't owe anyone so you aren't getting any information from me," said April Athey.

As the holiday season approaches, scammers are popping up everywhere preying on those feeling a bit more generous this time of year.

"Thieves or scammers will take advantage of people's good tidings this time of year when they feel that it's more important to give and they will be more likely to get more money or find more victims," said Raleigh County Lt. James Miller.

Although very difficult to catch, Miller told 59News what the charges would be for a scam of this nature.

"The very least charge would be obtaining money over false pretenses. Anything under $1,000 is a misdemeanor and anything over $1,000 is a felony," he said.

According to the IRS's website at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam :

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here's what you should do:

    If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you've never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • If you've been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.