COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned that his office is receiving more reports of IRS imposter scams as the April 18 tax filing deadline approaches.

Since March 1, the Ohio Attorney Generals Office has logged nearly 1,000 reports of the scam, compared to about 500 reports in February.

The scam generally begins with a call claiming the recipient is in trouble with the IRS and must call a certain phone number for more information. Eventually, the person is asked to provide money or personal information, supposedly to resolve the problem or avoid jail time.

Scam artists do this every single day, and were seeing even more of it right now, Attorney General DeWine said. Theyll call you, tell you how much you owe, and tell you to wire money or go buy a prepaid card and give them the numbers. They rely on people being so afraid that they agree to do this right away.

Although most consumers who contact the Ohio Attorney Generals Office about tax-related phone scams havent lost any money, nationally the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports that since October 2013 more than
5,500 victims collectively have paid about $29 million as a result of the scam.

To avoid IRS phone scams:

* Dont trust threatening callers. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone who threatens to arrest you for not paying taxes, be very skeptical, especially if you never received any written notice.
* Avoid making payments over the phone. Dont trust someone who demands that you pay immediately over the phone using a prepaid card or sending a wire transfer.These are preferred payment methods for scam artists. The real IRS wont demand that you pay over the phone using one of these specific methods.
* Dont respond to illegal robocalls in any way. Dont interact with the caller, and dont call a number left on your phone or in a message. Responding to a scam call can result in even more calls because it lets con artists know that your phone number belongs to a real person.
* Dont always trust caller ID. Scammers may spoof a phone number, making the number on your caller ID appear to be from the IRS, even when its not. They may make it look like the call is originating from Washington D.C. to appear more legitimate.
* Check into call-blocking options. Check with your phone carrier and third-party
services to determine whether call-blocking services could help you stop unwanted calls.

IRS or U.S. Treasury impersonation scams can be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.treasury.gov/tigta or 800-366-4484. Consumers also can contact the Ohio Attorney Generals Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515 for help detecting a scam.