A spokesman for the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Department is warning people about a phone scam that is being widely reported.

Dick Blust says the calls feature people claiming to be IRS agents calling people up and demanding immediate payment for supposed back taxes. The callers often demand payment through a credit or debit card. If the intended victim asks questions or refuses to go along with the scam, the caller threatens them with dire consequences such as immediate arrest, the arrest of a spouse, revocation of a driver's license or property seizures.

Many of the phony agents use fake names such as "Agent John Johnson" and may offer a fake IRS badge number. Some of the scammers even know the last four digits of the intended victim's Social Security number.

Blust says in the latest round of IRS scam calls, other phone conversations can be heard in the background. The caller often becomes extremely rude if the intended victim doesn't fall for the scheme, and in some cases, follow-up calls from other supposed "agents." are placed.  A new twist on the scam recently features the swindlers leaving recorded messages demanding a callback.

Blust says the IRS never makes initial contact with people who owe back taxes by telephone, but rather by mail. People can find out if they actually owe back taxes by calling 1-800-829-1040. You can report the scam calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

The latest scam calls are especially targeting seniors, so people are being asked to make sure their older relatives know about the scheme.


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