TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) --The Tulare County District Attorney's Office is trying to protect taxpayers by getting the word out about IRS scams this tax season. Their consumer fraud investigations unit says they receive calls on a regular basis about these scams, which can be either e-mails or telephone calls.
Through live or automated calls, scammers posing as IRS investigators demand payment or threaten arrest or prosecution. Some may just say they want to verify information that they already have.
Since 2013, officials say there have been 5,000 scam victims across the country, who have lost $26 million to scammers.
"If you don't owe any taxes, you have no reason to talk to those people on the phone," said Jose Benavides, a criminal investigator with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office. "Your best defense is to hang up the phone. Don't talk to them. Don't engage them in conversation because if it's a live person, these people are good at what they do. They're very aggressive, they're very practiced at what they do and they get information out of people if you engage them in conversation."
Benavides also wants to remind people to pay close attention to whoever prepares their taxes. He recommends making sure they are registered with the state and that they carry a surety bond.