. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has issued a Scam Alert to warn New Mexicans about IRS tax scams.

Last week, a new tax season began, with the IRS accepting 2017 tax returns. Already, consumer advocates at the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) have noted an uptick in the number of complaints about phony IRS agents who threaten consumers with jail time for phony tax debts.

“The IRS does not call you and does not email you about tax debts,” Balderas warned. “The IRS gives formal written notice through postal mail to persons it identifies as having tax consequences. Anyone who calls or emails you pretending to represent the IRS is likely a crook and a thief. This is so even if they offer you their ‘IRS badge number’, even if their caller I.D. has an ‘IRS’ in the identification block, and even if they send emails that look like real IRS correspondence.”

IRS scam callers may threaten individuals for non-payment. They often demand a credit or debit card be provided or that the individual wire them money or purchase a prepaid debit card right away in order to avoid immediate arrest or deportation. This is a sure sign the communication is fraudulent.

Anyone concerned whether they owe the IRS money is asked to contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 or www.irs.gov to check.

Balderas encourages those who have received such IRS scam calls or emails to take the following actions:

• Call and report the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA): An online reporting form for use when there has been no financial loss is available at www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml. TIGTA hotline: 1-800-366-4484. TIFTA after-hours hotline: 1-800-589-3718. Get more information from TIGTA YouTube videos on IRS Imposter Scams (seven videos) at www.youtube.com/channel/UC4dSU0BElmzA_o7atb929AA.

• Forward phony IRS emails to [email protected] (and make sure you don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails).

• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint and Include “IRS Telephone Scam” the subject line of your complaint.

• Report the calls or emails at the IRS “Report Phishing and Online Scams” page at www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing

The OAG offers advocates to help consumers who encounter scams, faulty products, and broken promises. The AG advises those who need help to fill out a consumer complaint form at www.nmag.gov or to call toll-free statewide, 1-844-255-9210.