Phone scam spreading through the Chattahoochee Valley

Phone scam spreading through the Chattahoochee Valley

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A new wave of scam phone calls is circulating through the valley as criminals pretend to be with the IRS, claiming outstanding taxes are due.

"Our phones have been blowing up here this morning," said Leonard Crane, President of the Columbus Better Business Bureau.

"I've gotten a dozen just today alone, not including the other dozen I got yesterday," added Sgt. John Bailey with the Columbus Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit.

With tax season just around the corner, scammers are coming out of the woodwork. The Internal Revenue Service announced that the 20-6 individual income tax filing season will open on Jan. 19, but that's not stopping scammers from getting an early start.

"Evidently they're blitzing the area and they're calling and implying that they're an IRS agent, that you owe back taxes, and that you need to pay up right now, give us a credit card or wire some money to us," said Crane.

Police and Better Business Bureau representatives have seen a spike this week, with the automated message even reaching some official's personal phone lines.

"I got one myself," Bailey said.

Financial crimes specialists say the IRS will not threaten to arrest you, demand you pay a specific way, nor ask for your card information over the phone.
So what should you do if you get a scammer calling you? Hang up and ignore it.

"That's the best thing the local government can do is advise you not to fall for it, you know most of these scams are from overseas anyways," said Bailey.

While officials have seen an influx of people getting these phone calls, they say they haven't heard of anyone falling victim to it yet.The IRS estimates 150 million tax returns will be filed this year, so it's important to stay vigilant of scams all tax season.

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