After reports in recent years of a series of scams targeting taxpayers, con artists have upped their game in a way to make their scams appear more legitimate.
The IRS reported this month that there is a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters claim that the IRS had attempted to contact the taxpayer via certified mail on two different occasions about money owed on unpaid taxes. The con artists tell the victim that the certified letters were returned as undeliverable and now the victim must make an immediate payment using a prepaid debit card or he or she will be arrested.
The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.
“This is a new twist to an old scam,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen stated in a press release. “Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”
Since EFTPS is an automated system – one that is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury – taxpayers won’t receive a call from the IRS. In addition, taxpayers have several options for paying a real tax bill and are not required to use a specific one.
If you should receive a suspicious phone call, do not give out any information, hang up immediately and contact our office as soon as possible.
Some telltale signs of a scam are if someone:
- Calls to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and checks should never be made payable to third parties.
- Threatens to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demands that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Asks for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
As your tax adviser, please let us know immediately if you receive any correspondence from anyone identifying themselves as being a representative of the IRS.