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Thousands Being Targeted In IRS Impersonation Scam

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A tax time scam is targeting people all across the nation, including right here in Pittsburgh

It's tax filing time for Elaine Palahunik who knows she's accounted for every dollar and was stunned to get a call recently on her answering machine.

The caller claimed to be an agent from the Internal Revenue Service, telling her she has cheated on her taxes and owed money.

The robotic voice says: "This is the final notification call from IRS. And if we don't hear from you immediately, you will be taken before a court of law and an arrest warrant will be issued at your name immediately."

KDKA's Andy Sheehan: "Shocking to hear it?"

Palahunik: "Of course it's shocking."

Sheehan: "It sends a jolt though you, right?"

Palahunik: "Palpitations. You get scared; you don't know what to do."

The country is in the midst of the largest impersonation fraud in the history of the IRS, and hundreds, perhaps, thousands of people in our region have gotten these calls and are being asked to heed this simple advice.

"The IRS will not contact you on the phone," said Caitlin Discoll, of the Better Business Bureau.

The real IRS will not call you. If you are being audited, they will only contact you by mail.

The Better Business Bureau, which has been inundated with complaints, said scammers add to the confusion by using caller ID malware that identifies the caller as being from the IRS.

"You can't always trust your caller ID due to caller ID spoofing nowadays," said Driscoll.

Being savvy herself, Palahunik soon realized the call to be a fake and didn't bite, but she wants others to know about the dangers of falling for the scam.

"Shame on them for trying to scam… especially the elderly," Palahunik said.

The phone scammers have been around for a while, but federal authorities say this year it's far worse than ever. So if you get one of these calls hang up and call the real IRS.

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