With tax season upon us, Forest Park police are warning residents to beware of telephone scams involving people claiming to be agents of, or working for, the Internal Revenue Service.

Callers often target elderly residents and can be aggressive, threatening their intended victims with arrest or imprisonment unless the victim pays them for “back taxes” owed to the IRS.

On Feb. 1, a 75-year-old Forest Park man called police after someone left a voicemail message on his home phone. The caller claimed to be from the IRS and said the agency would file a lawsuit against him unless he immediately called a number left on his phone to resolve the issue.

The man did not call the number back, but instead called police, who documented the incident.

The IRS itself is warning people about this scam on its website, stating, “These con artists can sound convincing when they call. … They may know a lot about their targets and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.”

However, the IRS website notes that the IRS “will never call to demand payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owned without first having mailed you a bill.” 

The IRS also never demands a certain type of payment, such as a prepaid debit card or ask for credit card or debit card account numbers over the phone. Finally, the IRS won’t threaten to have any police agency arrest you for not paying.

If you believe you have been a victim to an IRS scam artist, you should call Forest Park police at 708-366-2425. You can also fill out a form at the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s website at www.tigta.gov. The scam alert link is at the top of the agency’s home page, highlighted in yellow.

—Bob Uphues