It's tax season. While we all hope to get nice refunds, many will unfortunately owe. However, each year, some pay out much more than they anticipated, as tax time also means tax scams.  The latest data from the IRS has us floored too, as over just the last 3 seasons, there been 20 different victims of these scams, with a total loss of almost $85,500.  That's an average of almost $4,300 each!  I know I certainly can't afford that kind of loss.  So here's what to look for to stay protected.

  • The IRS will never call you demanding or threatening immediate payment, or threaten to have you arrested for not paying, be it a real person giving you a badge number, or a "robo-call" demanding an urgent call back.
  • If you receive a call about taxes owed, without having received a bill first, be very cautious.
  • You will never be asked to make a payment without first being given the opportunity to appeal the amount owed.
  • You will never be required to use a specific form of payment. Be especially suspicious if they ask you to use a prepaid debit card.
  • The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Basically, if the IRS is unexpectedly calling you, it's most likely NOT the IRS, especially if they are rude, threatening, or demanding in anyway. Just because your caller ID makes it look like it's the IRS, it most likely isn't. Be extremely suspicious if you don't feel that you do owe taxes. Make sure you don't give them any information. In fact, the IRS encourages you to simply hang up, then call the Treasury Inspector General at 800-366-4484, or head to their website by clicking here.

If you think you might owe, you can always contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040

On the flipside, if they call saying you're owed a huge refund, as tempting as it sounds, it most likely is too good to be true.  So hang up, and call them back at the number above.

By the way, many of the same rules go for mail and e-mail. If it doesn't seem to make sense, either refund or demand for payment, call the IRS to be sure before giving up any money or information. Also, know you are not alone, over 895,000 contacts have been made since October 2013. The IRS is aware of over 5,000 victims, paying over $26.5 millions, with over $85,000 of that coming from the 20 Iowa victims.  Know the facts and protect yourself.

For more information, watch the video below. You can also check out the latest info on current scams here.