Beware: Crooks pretending to be IRS agents want to scare you into giving up money, info

SEATTLE -- If the IRS calls wanting money, hang up. That's the advice from security experts after thousands of people have already fallen victim to a widespread scam.

Crooks are after your cash or personal information -- and they're using scare tactics to get it.

"This call is to inform you that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you," one of the callers say.

Preying on fears, fake IRS agents are calling people like Tacoma's Mandon Foley with threatening messages.

"For whatever reason, when I listed to the message and saw Washington, D.C., it seemed a little more legit to me," said Foley, an insurance agent. "There's so many new taxes. Did I forget to pay a tax? Was there something I missed?"

So Foley returned the call and said the bogus IRS agent was convincing.

"You don't want to mess with the IRS, so I'm having an internal battle of should I give the information but my gut says don't."

It's a widespread scam where crooks use different voices with similar messages to try to scare people into using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer to send them cash.

"'You owe us money and back taxes. Either there's a warrant for your arrest or we can take care of it now over the phone' -- and a lot of people will fall for it," said David Quinlan of the Better Business Bureau.

The IRS will never call you like that, Quinlan said, adding that the BBB has an online Scam Tracker you can use to research or report the call.

Click here to go to the BBB Scam Tracker.