BBB warns of scammers claiming to be IRS

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Better Business Bureau is warning of an IRS scam that is picking up intensity in the Jacksonville area, where scammers are threatening to arrest if people don't pay back taxes that they really don't owe. 

The BBB is warning Jacksonville residents to be alert if anyone calls, particularly having to do with personal tax information.

"He was indicating that he was a senior investigator for IRS and wanted to do an interview with me because I was back on taxes for five years," said Joseph Cullen.

Cullen told Channel 4 he was pretty sure the number, that appeared to come out of Washington D.C. or New York, was bogus and he didn't bite. 

When the caller told Cullen he had to send them around $3,000 in back taxes to avoid being arrested, he knew something was up.

"They (said they) were going to put an arrest warrant out on me and I could serve five years in prison and seven years on my assets being frozen," said Cullen.

The BBB said the scam has been popping up a lot in the Jacksonville area.

"I would say five or six in the last three days," said Tom Stephens, with the BBB. "Consumers are calling us and telling us they've gotten phone calls with an Indian accent, basically calling, claiming to be agents of the IRS."

Stephens told Channel 4 there are some key things people need to remember if they receive these phone calls. 

  • The IRS doesn't contact people by phone, but always by letter. 
  • The IRS will never threaten to arrest an individual. 
  • The BBB wants folks to remember that if they do owe back taxes, the IRS will send out notices. People usually receive multiple notices from the IRS when they owe money. 

 "These people are very good at it because they can be aggressive and threatening and they can scare people," said Stephens. 

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