Indiana AG offers warning on avoiding scams as tax season kicks off

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Tax season is officially underway. Last week, the IRS began accepting electronic tax returns. This also means it’s the busiest time of year for tax fraud.

When she answered her phone, an Indianapolis woman was told the man of the other end is with the IRS and she owed the government $3,700.

“I just was scared and didn’t know what to do,” said Elvria Uscanga.

The caller told Elvria to go to the ATM and get some cash for a down payment or she would go to jail.

“He told me go to the bank and take out $500, so I did,” said Uscanga.

Elvira admits she did withdraw some money, but at the last second she called police and avoided falling victim.

“I talked to the lady from 911 and she told me to turn around,” said Uscanga.

Uscanga certainly isn’t alone. In 2015, the Indiana attorney general’s office took 652 reports of tax fraud involving identity theft and 3,553 complaints of IRS impersonations.

In 2016, the number of identity theft cases went down to 234, but false IRS complaints increased to 3,751.

“There are people out there who will take advantage, so if it looks strange contact someone and find out,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Hill says the real IRS doesn’t make phone calls and filing a tax return as early as possible is good way to avoid falling victim to scammers.

“That way, if you’ve got your information in and you get a phone call you’re already ahead of the game. You know what’s going on,” said Hill.

“I hope others don’t fall into the same situation as me, because it is really scary,” said Uscanga.

If you or someone you know has been contacted by a potential scam artist, write down the phone number and file a complaint with either the attorney general or police department.