WASHINGTON, D.C. --As Americans rush to complete their tax returns by April 18, the IRS says scammers are rushing to rip them off.
A phone call, allegedly from the IRS, left 11-year-old Anna Rupert shaking, verging on tears and almost giving up the goods the thieves asked for.
"I was so scared, I was freaking out," she said.
They said 'oh it's really urgent. Your parents haven't paid their IRS bills. There's like $1,600 they need to pay or else they're going to go to jail," she recalled.
Anna's mother, Kate Rupert, picked up just in time.
"He was calling from a Chicago-area number, he knew the name and address of the IRS building in Chicago, named supervisors, had information about me and my husband. It was very scary," he said.
Not to mention fake. The IRS says these calls continue to register as one of its top concerns.
Another rapidly growing problem comes in the form of phishing malware scams. Emails purporting to be from the IRS that trick taxpayers into handing over personal information have increased 400 percent so far this tax season.
"These are adaptive adversaries. We've seen this over time where they continue to change their tactics, continue to go after honest taxpayers," said Matt Leas, an IRS spokesperson.
One scheme even targets payroll information.
"Phishing criminals are emailing, pretending to be the CEO or leader of an organization to the HR and payroll departments, asking for all the W2 information ... for something that they're doing," said Matt Leas, an IRS spokesperson.
The IRS says it will never demand immediate payment over the phone. The agency also won't send emails that solicit personal or financial information.
Kate Rupert says she's still haunted by what could have happened to her family.
"I'm not sure she wouldn't have started reading out loud credit card numbers at some point. She was very insistent that we not get taken away to jail," she said of her daughter.
Since 2013, the IRS says taxpayers have been taken for nearly $30 million garnered through phone scams alone.