NEW BEDFORD — Few things strike more fear in people's hearts than a call from the IRS.

Unfortunately, scammers know this.

All too often, they call unsuspecting taxpayers saying they are with the IRs and claiming that they owe money. Panicked at the thought, victims have been known to send thousands of dollars of what they are told is unpaid back taxes to the scammers.

Then the scammers vanish. And so does the victims' money.

Only then do victims realize: the caller was not from the IRS at all.

In fact, the IRS does not call customers. They do not have the authority to issue warrants or make arrests.

The New Bedford Police Department and the IRS are warning the public to be aware that scammers claiming to be with the IRS can be especially prevalent this time of year, with tax deadline on the horizon.

Police urge the public to keep in mind a few basic points about the IRS.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.

The IRS does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement actions. If you have no reason to believe you owe taxes and you receive calls, call 1-800-366-4484. Visit irs.gov for more information on scams and schemes.

For more information, call the New Bedford Police Department at 508-991-6300, ext. 79519.

--New Bedford Police