The front desk and dispatch center at Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department headquarters are getting a steady stream of calls about an IRS phone scam that is still making the rounds.

Callers claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Treasury and tell people that they owe an outstanding tax bill.

Scammers try to con the targeted victims into sending cash through a pre-paid credit card or wire transfer, and often leave callback requests via robo-calls or emails, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

She said authorities issued a warning about the scam in early March but the fake phone calls are continuing.

The callers are frauds because the IRS does not call asking for money, but the scammers can use caller ID spoofing to make it look like the call actually is coming from the IRS or another government agency.

The callers might use IRS titles, fake badge numbers and information about the victim to make the call sound official, Hoover said.

Lee Knodel, head of Dons Net Café at Santa Barbara High School, which provides free income tax assistance to residents, said many clients have been getting the fake calls threatening them with jail and asking for Social Security numbers.

The Sheriff’s Department warns that the IRS does not: 

» Call to let you know you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.

» Require you to pay your taxes with a pre-paid debit card.

» Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

» Threaten to bring in local law enforcement to arrest you for not paying.

Anyone who gets a call like this is advised not to give out personal information, and to hang up immediately.

The call can be reported through the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800.366.4484 or through the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting website.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at