The Better Business Bureau says a new scam utilizing phone calls from people claiming to be from the IRS have already claimed a number of victims.

The BBB said Wednesday these phone calls are aggressive and often threatening.  According to Chelsea McGuire, BBB Communications Director:

"A Spokane area resident reported being called repeatedly by a phony FBI representative, claiming that she didn’t fill out forms correctly. They told her if she didn’t give them $3,200 within an hour, she would be put in jail or her children would be taken away from her. Other consumers reported being given similar ultimatums and threats to their safety if they did not pay up.

These IRS/tax-related phone scams are being reported nationwide."

McGuire and the BBB have issued some tips to help deal with such IRS-related scams.

*The IRS always starts with U.S. Mail. If a caller claiming to be an IRS agent notifies you of an outstanding tax debt, but you haven’t received official notification from the IRS through the United States Postal Service, call their bluff. The IRS always starts by sending taxpayers written notification of any tax due via U.S. Mail.

*The IRS won’t ask on the phone. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone, so a request from a caller should raise a red flag.

*Scammers might already have your information. It’s not unusual for scammers to be able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security Number or your address. Be vigilant and remain aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with consumers over the telephone or via email.   
  Even if they have a few details about you, don't divulge any more.  They might NOT have enough to do any damage to your financial situation or credit.

*Look out for “spoofing.” Part of scammers’ sophisticated tactics include “spoofing,” which happens when the caller masks their own number and causes the number of a well-known service, like the IRS, to appear on caller ID.

McGuire also says, don't be intimidated. Stay calm, and if possible attempt to get as much detailed information about the caller as possible.   It might not seem like much, but every shred of information helps law enforcement officials at least pinpoint where these scams are coming from;  and in some cases, have been able to actually apprehend the culprits.

If that doesn't work,  there's always the air horn.    Tell the suspicious caller to listen closely and carefully while you give them some information.  Then place the air horn against the mouthpiece of the phone, and let it fly!    Chances are, they won't call you back.   It's worth a try.   We did it once, and it worked with a telemarketer.  (This method was NOT endorsed by the BBB!).