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Scam Watch: Will the IRS call you about money owed?

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Scammers pretending to be IRS agents are constantly making calls trying to gain access to personal information.

As tax filing season gets underway, scam calls may spike, according to the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.

"There are collections agencies that the government has hired to call people, so if you do get one of those calls, you probably got something in the mail beforehand," explained Melanie McGovern, communications director with BBB of Upstate New York. "They're notifying people by mail. There's a unique ID number in that letter. when they call, they're going to ask you for that."

The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail, according to IRS.gov.

"They're notifying people by mail. There's a unique ID number in that letter. When they call, they're going to ask you for that," McGovern said. "We do warn people that yes, the IRS sometime calls but it's only if you owe taxes. if you get one of those calls -- it's definitely a scam, definitely hang up."

McGovern says it's important to watch out for email scams related to tax filing. If you receive an email about "free tax filing" software you're unfamiliar with, research the company before downloading anything.

Safety reminders:
- The IRS will not demand immediate payment over the phone.
- The IRS will allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- The IRS will not ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- More safety reminders can be found by clicking here.

If you have questions about a letter or call you receive regarding a tax bill from the IRS, you can contact the government agency directly at (800) 829-1040.

The BBB of Upstate New York works closely with government agencies including the IRS. The BBB recommends people report any potential tax scams to the IRS and to the BBB Scam Tracker located here.

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