MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Someone who poses as an IRS agent and threatens to arrest a woman for fake "back-taxes" is a coward.

When that same someone makes the threat from a traceable phone number, he's a dunce.

'That guy' called Sandra Eberle of East Memphis. The call frightened her.

"He said that the police would be here in 15 minutes and arrest me," Eberle said.

No, they won't.

The call is just another one of those IRS 'phishing' scams that are now as seasonal as taxes themselves.

The one who called Eberle had all the tell-tale signs: foreign accent, police threat, phone number to call -- which is typically re-routed to a boiler room where some nut insists you wire some money or use a prepaid debit card to send payment for your "delinquent taxes."

Except on this call, the nut used a legitimate number to have Eberle call him back directly.

When she did (and she shouldn't have, by the way), that's when he said police officers are 15 minutes out. But Eberle's smarter than that.

"I don't believe the IRS sends (local) police to arrest people. At least they don't call and give me a head start!" she joked. "I'd have to run faster than that!"

Rule number one: never answer or return a call from a number you do not recognize, even if the area code is familiar. The more you engage these phishing calls, the more they will increase, even if you do not fall for the scam. That's because these people are dialing randomly. When you answer, you confirm to the caller that your number is a legitimate number. If you continue to engage them, they will sell your number to other telemarketers, scammers and spammers to wear you out even more. The less you engage, the more they will taper off and disappear.

Also, the IRS wants you to know the IRS will never:

* to demand payment or back-taxes without first mailing a bill.

* ...require a specific mode of payment, especially prepaid debit cards.

* ...ask for your debit or credit card number over the phone.

* ...threaten to arrest you or to send someone to arrest you for non-payment.

By the time I tried calling Eberle's joker back on the number he used to solicit her, the number was no longer in use. He had deactivated it.

Coward -- and dunce.

"I hope that what you are doing will help people understand that this is something you should not respond to," Eberle said.

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