SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

Santa Cruz County prosecutors say telephone scammers are posing as Internal Revenue Service agents and asking local residents for tax payments over the phone.

The same scam is being reported nationwide.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Consumer Affairs office warns residents that the IRS does not call or email taxpayers to collect tax payments.

A Santa Cruz resident reported that she was called this week by a man claiming to be from the IRS, who told her that she owed back taxes. He told her she could pay the money or be arraigned in court immediately with the possibility of jail time. He also told her she needed to purchase government certified bonds to pay the fines. Eventually she realized it was a scam.

There are warnings on the IRS official website about both telephone and email scams.

Characteristics of the scam include:

? Scammers give fake names and fake IRS badge numbers.

? Scammers may have a victim's social security number.

? Email phishing scams will lead a victim to a website that imitates the IRS site.

? After threatening victims with fines or jail time, the scammers hang up and others call back pretending to be from the police or sheriff or DMV.

To report these and other scams, those in Santa Cruz County should call the District Attorney's Consumer Affairs unit  at 454-2050.