WEST MICHIGAN - It's tax filing season and with it, come the scam phone calls.
Several different police agencies and FOX 17 viewers are reporting an increase in the number of calls from persons claiming to be agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They then request personal information or payments by pre-paid debit cards.
According to police, the caller tells the victim they owe money and if they don't pay up, they'll be arrested.
Kent, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren Counties as well as Michigan State Police issued releases urging people to be alert to people posing as IRS agents.
Doc Kuiper of Grandville says he was called four times on Monday alone from someone who claimed to be with the IRS.
"It sounds quite authentic, yet when you really listen to it, it’s not...they’re free loaders you know, that’s the way I look at it," Kuiper said.
Kuiper says if you don't answer, the caller will likely give you a number and name to call back.
It even happened to FOX 17's own Digital Manager Bob Brenzing, twice.
"It sounds so authentic, call this number... once they say it’s a tax thing and you’re going to appear in front of a judge, it’s scary," Kuiper said.
According to Becky Kietzman, the manager at America's Best Tax Service, it's convincing too. Callers use fake names, fake badge numbers, and may even know their victim's names and Social Security information.
"It’s just getting worse and worse and worse," Kietzman said. "When the caller I.D. comes up, it comes up as IRS on it so you think it’s legit."
According to the real IRS, it's far from the truth.
"If you get a call from us and you’re not expecting one, it’s probably not us," Luis Garcia from the IRS told FOX 17 News on Monday. "The IRS isn’t going to threaten to arrest you or threaten to kick down your door or foreclose on your mortgage, take your driver’s license away, or deport you if you do not pay your taxes."
If you have received one of these calls, you are urged to report it to the IRS at this link. You are also urged to share this information with family and friends who are susceptible to this kind of scam.