The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers about a pretty elaborate phone scam. IRS Spokeswoman Dee Stepter tells KEEL News that the scammers have found a way to spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID.

"That is the hook," Stepter says. "They're calling taxpayers, their caller ID shows up that it's coming from the IRS, and they're telling them that they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid immediately through a either pre-loaded debit card or a wire transfer."

Stepter says the IRS would never make a phone call like this. She says your first notification from the agency that you owe money would be by letter. "And normally, there are several follow-up letters reaching out to you before we would call you," she says. "But we would never call and immediately demand that you go out and buy a debit card and that you make a wire transfer." She says that should be a sign to you that it's a scam.

Stepter says how you pay whatever taxes you owe is at your discretion, whether it be in person with cash, or in the mail by check or money order. She says you can pay by debit card, but it's through a third-party provider and there's a fee involved.

This scam has hit nearly every state in the country, including Louisiana, but Stepter can't say exactly how many people have fallen victim to it. She has heard, though, that some taxpayers have been scammed out of thousands of dollars. These callers are giving out fake names and IRS badge numbers, and seem to be targeting a lot of recent immigrants and new U.S. citizens. 

If the recipient hangs up on them, these people will often call back from a number that appears to be from a local law enforcement agency or the DMV.  If you get one of these calls, hang up and report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Stepter gave us other tips on how to avoid being taken by this scam and others. Click on the link below to hear her entire interview with KEEL Morning News. You can also visit the IRS WEBSITE for more useful information.