MILWAUKEE (WITI) — You owe money! Your taxes are overdue! It's a phone call thousands of people in Wisconsin and beyond are getting. The person on the line says they are from the IRS.
The IRS phone impersonation scam is growing so fast that it's becoming one of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) office's top priorities, according to a recent hearing before the Committee on Finance in the U.S. Senate.
During that hearing, TIGTA revealed that victims' losses nationwide have now totaled more than $15.5 million.
With the number of complaints growing each day, TIGTA says it is "the largest and most pervasive impersonation scam in the history" of the agency.
It's a call that would make anyone think twice. Viewers have been reaching out to FOX6's Contact 6 to learn more about it. FOX6 producer Sara Smith even got the call and was concerned.
"The IRS they're suing me?! Then, I started to think 'did I not pay taxes?'" said Smith.
The messages are not from the IRS. It's part of nationwide scam.
"These crooks will call people on the telephone and say that they have a tax bill that's due and they'll threaten them with arrest or deportation or loss of their driver's license if they don't pay right now," said Christopher Miller who works in Media Relations for the IRS.
Miller says the IRS has been battling this scam for over a year and there's been thousands of victims who have lost millions.
"It seems very real and, of course, it's very scary to anyone who gets a call like that seemingly from the IRS," said Miller.
The scam is happening so often, the IRS created a YouTube video to warn taxpayers.
The calls are almost all the same. The scammers ask for money to be wired or put on a pre-loaded debit card using harassing language and scare tactics. The IRS does not handle business that way.
"The IRS does not call people on the telephone about their tax bill and we don't use threatening or angry or harassing language. If you get a call like that it's a scam — don't fall for it," Miller said.
Thankfully, Sara Smith never returned the call, sent money or gave anyone her information. However, even she admits, she thought about it and wanted to warn others.
"If I almost fell for it, there's got to be other people that are calling this number back and saying 'I've got this case number and how much money do I need to send you,'" Smith said.
Remember, no matter how "real" these calls may seem — they're not. The best thing to do is just hang up. If you are concerned that you owe money to the IRS contact the agency directly.
For information about the scam and what you should do if you get one these calls, click HERE.
If you've received one of the calls, TIGTA strongly recommends reporting the it HERE.