The IRS is calling, and they want your money.

If that happens to you, hang up. That's the message from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which warns consumers that the IRS does not call people by phone. The people making the calls are scammers posing as IRS employees and fishing for personal information to use for tax identify theft.

They may threaten you with arrest if you don't pay your "overdue bill" by wiring money, putting it on a prepaid debit card or providing your credit card number. Or they claim they need more payment information to process your taxes. They may even have some of your personal information already, like the four digits of your social security number, and a badge number.

It's all a lie.

The FTC says it's had a large increase in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposter scam complaints in the past year — almost 50,000 more complaints than usual. So take heed.

Related: Ghosting: When Identity Thieves Steal from the Dead

Know that the IRS does not reach out to taxpayers by email, text message or social media. Avoid responding to these messages with any personal information, no matter how serious the threats made by the scammer are.

If you receive any calls from a fake IRS employee or robocalls, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration using the Treasury’s online reporting form. Then alert the IRS by emailing the agency at phishing@irs.gov. Put “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line.

Related: 7 Tips for Filing Your Taxes Safely

This tax season and year round, also take these precautions against identity theft, according to the IRS.

  • Keep your social security card and any related documents, like your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, in a safe place. Do not carry it with you.
  • Share your social security number only when necessary.
  • Protect your personal financial information on your computer by installing an anti-virus software and firewalls and using strong passwords.
  • Check your credit report regularly.
  • Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.

infographic tax identity(Photo: Federal Trade Commission /FTC)