CROSBY, TX (WABC) --Tax day is creeping up, and as you rush out to file your paperwork and get that refund, be wary of scammers who could try to take your money.
Jordan Alexander thought it was the IRS calling and demanding thousands of dollars to avoid tax evasion charges and threatening that the cops were on their way. Only it wasn't, and it's just the latest money-making scheme for crooks.
Sadly, tax season has become scam season for millions of Americans, with phishing phone calls like that one only getting more common.
"It seemed like it was in a movie, just very unrealistic," Alexander said. "But my fear got ahold of me."
The first big tip in sniffing out a scam is to remember that the IRS does not email or call you.
"If you've been audited, you're going to get a letter in the mail," said Stephanie Zimmerman, ABC's The Fixer. "So anybody who calls you like this, it is a scam."
Immediately report the call to the IRS, because the government is cracking down and convicting thousands of people just last year.
Another big and extremely costly scam is stolen refunds. Identity thieves are ripping off taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars every year by acquiring Social Security numbers, filing fake returns and stealing refunds.
"People don't realize they're a victim until they file their own return, and the IRS says, 'We already have one for you,'" Zimmerman said.
To protect yourself, you can call the IRS and get a pin so that only you have access to file your return. If it's already too late, go to IRS.gov and fill out an identity theft affidavit, and get a police report for additional proof.
You'll still get your refund, it's just going to take several months and a lot of paperwork.
The IRS does have software to find suspicious returns, catching more than one million back in 2013 totaling $8 billion. And don't forget, tax day is later this year, with a deadline of April 18.