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The IRS impersonation phone call scam alert

Now with tax season upon us, individuals and groups will once again attempt to defraud taxpayers and the US government out of millions of dollars, using techniques and technologies that range from the old school to the cutting edge. This year is no different, and the IRS has been feverishly issuing warnings about how to spot the red flags and strategies for staying out of scammers' crosshairs.

How it works: One of the most brazen schemes used every year is scammers calling and claiming to represent the IRS to taxpayers and demand an immediate tax payment. Calling from a phone number that appears to belong to the IRS on your caller ID, they will threaten, badger and intimidate you into making a rash decision. Usually they will often ask for a transfer of funds by gift card or wire transfer. Thieves are increasingly extending this scheme to email and social media channels.

How to protect yourself: Know that the IRS will never phone you or show up at your house to demand an immediate payment -- especially via gift card or wire transfer. Though debt collectors have been known to get pushy, an IRS representative should never berate, abuse or threaten to bring in law or immigration agencies.

If someone claiming to work for the IRS calls you, the IRS says you should write down the number you received the call from, the name of the caller and then hang up. You can then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 or visit irs.gov/balancedue to view your account.

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