Have you gotten this IRS scam phone call?

Tax season may just be getting started, but tax scammers have already been hard at work.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has gotten thousands of complaints about one kind of scammer in particular — IRS imposters.

Here’s how they work: scammers posing as IRS officials call and say you owe taxes. They threaten to arrest or deport you, revoke your license, or even shut down your business if you don’t pay right away.

They may know your social security number — or at least the last four digits of it — making you think it really is the IRS calling. They also can rig caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from Washington, DC.

Before you can check out the callers, you’re told to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the number — something no government agency would ask you to do. Once you do it, you find out it was a scam, and the money is gone.

“The IRS does not call you. The IRS doesn’t threaten you,” said Dottie Callina, Manager of Communications, Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & NE Georgia.

Callina said the scammers tend to target seniors and immigrants, people, she said “who may be more easily frightened.”

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In recent months, an online BBB scam tracker shows 123 tax collection complaints reported in Georgia online on this new tracker. Most of them have to do with an IRS scam.

You can check out the BBB's free interactive online tool which offers a heat map showing where scams are being reported at www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us. Users can also report scams that they hear about, whether or not they have fallen victim. Many in the community are trying to get the word out. Some Crime Prevention Officers with the Atlanta Police Department have been posting warnings on neighborhood listserves.

If you owe — or think you owe — federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. The IRS doesn't ask people to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and doesn't ask for credit card numbers over the phone. When the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they usually do it by mail, not by phone.

Report IRS imposter scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or at 800-366-4484, and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.