As Georgia taxpayers are preparing and filing their 2018 tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service is warning people about criminals who pose as IRS representatives in phone scams. In a news release, the IRS said that these phone scams continue to be a major threat and can cost victims a lot of money.

The Security Summit, which is a collaboration between IRS, states, and the tax community, works to protect people against identity theft and scams that are aimed at stealing people’s money. The IRS says taxpayers should review the Security Summit safety tips at this time of year.

The phone scams during tax season often involve someone claiming to be an IRS agent demanding payment for overdue taxes, sometimes aggressively. In other cases, a robocall may be the method of contact. Often the scammers will have legitimate information about the person they are calling, and offer realistic-sounding IRS badge numbers to further fool their victims. IRS says that since 2013, 14,700 victims have fallen prey to these types of criminals.

In reality, the IRS never demands immediate payment over the phone. Taxpayers who actually owe money to the IRS will usually receive a bill by postal mail, and will be given an opportunity to appeal or question the amount owed. The IRS never calls to threaten police action or arrest for non-payment of requested money.

When someone does not pay money that is actually owed to the IRS, the agency might choose to levy the person’s wages, put a lien against their property, or seize assets like bank accounts. When the IRS plans to levy, it will send a notice of intent to levy, and the taxpayer has 30 days to appeal. It would be advisable to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the notice is received.