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IRS: 400% increase in scam activity - KOAM TV 7

IRS: 400% increase in scam activity

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Joplin, MO -

The IRS says now, more than ever, people need to be cautious about what personal information they give out.  The government organization has issued a big warning about a big increase in scam activity.

Take it from the guys and gals who get paid to find out if you've been exaggerating numbers...

"This year, we have seen a pretty big surge in phishing and malware attacks.  That's where criminals send what look like to be valid emails," says Michael Devine with the IRS.

To quantify the situation, the IRS says there's a 400 percent increase in IRS impersonation scams this year compared to the same time last year.

Kathy Blood, a tax preparer in Joplin, says she's not surprised.

You may have heard tax preparers, like Blood, say time and time again...

"No emails," says Blood.

"No calling," says Blood.

...No text messaging, either.

"The IRS notifies people by mail," says Blood.

Always remember that.  That especially goes for tax preparers, too.  Blood remembers talking to a man by the name of Mister Foster, who said someone told him she wasn't paying her taxes.

"He was going to come get me and take me to jail.  The sheriff was coming," says Blood.

"One of the reasons they would be targeting tax professionals is, it's like any large cash of personal information.  If they can get into a computer system that has names, other personal information, they could mine that," says Devine.

"So finally, near the end of the call, I said, Mister Foster, I'd like for you to meet Mister Whistle," says Blood.

Blood says she blew a whistle loudly into the phone.

"Needless to say, Mister Foster's number was disconnected later," says Blood.

We end with some good news.  As scammers have become more creative, the IRS has become more thorough to try and detect scammers.

"I got a client that got a letter in the mail one day, and he came in to pick up his return and said either my wife or I's identity has been compromised with the Internal Revenue Service.  Here's the letter from them," says Blood.

The letter was real, but it never hurts to give the IRS a call to double check the facts.

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