EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tax season officially begins today as people can now start filing their tax returns. And it's not just the IRS that's stepping up the work. Scammers have also started hitting up Hawaii residents with aggressive phone calls.
While honest taxpayers are getting their tax documents ready, crooks are trying to get your information as well. An Ewa Beach family got the call and warns don't fall for it.
"I'm calling you from the Internal Revenue Service department, IRS," said a caller who identified himself as David Karen.
The man on the voicemail is difficult to understand but claims to be with the IRS. He says it is "extremely time sensitive" and there is a "deficiency in your income tax." He also says "return the call before there is any legal action taken."
He left two different numbers on different voicemails. We called the first number, 530-209-1035, and got the message that said, "At the subscribers request this number does not take incoming calls."
The second number, 530-208-0695 rang several times before there was a click and silence.
We also called the number on the caller id, 425-209-1032, and it was disconnected.
"I did a Google search on the phone number listed on the caller ID and it turned out it had been going after other people too," said Lyn Uratani, of Ewa Beach.
Lyn Uratani is home from Boise State University after earning Bachelors and Masters degrees so she's a smart woman and wasn't about to let her parents fall for the scam. But she does wonder, why them?
"That is kind of strange too. It's creepy in fact. We do online shopping, we do other things like that but I don't know how else they can get our information," said Uratani.
"There is a certain scam going around the United States right now in which victims are being called by people purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service and in fact are not," said David Tucker II, Internal Revenue Service. "First of all we don't call. That's not the way we initiate contact with the taxpayer."
The IRS doesn't email you about collections either. They only send you letters via the US Postal Service. If the caller asks for your social security number that's a red flag because the IRS would already have that.
"We neither ask for credit card numbers over the phone nor do we request a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Those are not the ways we ask taxpayers to pay their tax liability," said Tucker. "The main thing to do is protect your identity, protect your personal information, and be aware there are scammers out there during the tax season."
The IRS wants to give people more money because twenty percent of taxpayers in Hawaii are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit when more should be.
"We know one out of five who are eligible do not claim it and we want to change that. We want people who are eligible to actually get the Earned Income Tax Credit," said Tucker.
As for Lyn Uratani's parents, they both work for the state and pay their taxes.
"Right they do," laughed Uratani.
Of course taxpayers need to get their returns and payments to the real IRS by April 15. The clock is ticking.
If you have concerns and would like to contact the IRS call 800-829-1040.