The Owatonna Police Department and the Rice/Steele 911 dispatch center have received a larger number of calls from citizens reporting that they have received calls from the IRS threatening arrest for unpaid taxes lately. This is definitely a scam.

The callers are claiming to be IRS employees, using fake names and fake IRS id badge numbers. They know a lot about their targets and they are able to alter the caller ID to make it look like they are with the IRS.

The premise is simple, they tell the target that they owe money to the IRS and that it needs to be paid immediately, either through a wire transfer or a gift card transfer. Victims have been threatened with arrest, deportation, suspension of a business or driver's license, and in many cases the caller becomes hostile and insulting. They have even tried to say that the victims may have a refund coming to try to trick people into sharing private information. They also will leave an urgent callback request if the phone is not answered.

The IRS does NOT do this, and they will not:

  •  Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  •  Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a call like this, just hang up. If you are concerned about the validity, you can contact the IRS directly. Unfortunately, there are several scams out there, and you can read about more of them here. You can also contact your local Police Department if you think you have received one of these calls.


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