Consumers warned of fake IRS scammers

People pretending to be government officials to steal your money are making more scam calls than ever.  Sharon Balkom, who lives in St. Cloud, got one of those calls about a month ago.

“They were urgent, ‘You need to call us right away,’” she recalled.

Balkom says the voicemail came from someone claiming to be with the IRS claiming she could lose her property if she didn’t provide some information.  The 71-year-old says out of curiosity, she decided to call the Washington, DC number back but she immediately knew things were off.

“I just said, ‘Yeah, right,’ and hung up,” Balkom said.

The Federal Trade Commission says for the first time, more people called them to report the “imposter scam” than identity theft in 2016. That’s more than 400,000 complaints.

“Specifically in 2016, we saw a tremendous increase in the number of IRS imposter scams,” said Holly

Salmons, President of the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida. She says scammers prey on people during tax season. They can spoof numbers and come up with stories that sound legit.

“Oftentimes they’ll call themselves agents, they’ll come up with case numbers,” Salmons explained.

Balkom says she knows the IRS would never call but she wants to make sure scammers don’t end up duping other people.

“Give them their social security number, their bank account number and be scammed out of maybe thousands of dollars – who knows,” she said.