Recently the IRS issued a nationwide warning to taxpayers and tax professionals to be aware of a new scam that involves the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). The scam entails the perpetrators falsely identifying themselves as IRS employees, and informing a potential victim that two certified letters were sent in the mail but were returned as undeliverable. The scammers then demand an immediate payment for the tax liabilities, and advise the victim to make the payment through a prepaid debit card. To gain victim’s trust they falsely state that the prepaid debit card is linked to the EFTPS system, which is a common method to pay federal taxes electronically. If the victim does not comply the scammers then threaten to have the taxpayer arrested.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that EFTPS is a free system offered by the U.S. Department of Treasury and that it does not utilize a prepaid debit card. The payment is done automatically via Internet or by phone using the EFTPS Voice Response System.
In the past, EFTPS users were victims of a phishing scam, where fraudsters sent emails with a request to change personal information by clicking on a malicious link that installed malware on users’ computers. Later that malware was used to capture victim’s banking information. “This is a new twist to an old scam. 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.” – said the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Keep note: the IRS will never call a taxpayer demanding immediate payment via credit or debit cards. Generally, the IRS will first mail a letter with the outstanding tax balance to taxpayers. Additionally, the IRS will not threaten to involve law-enforcement to have a taxpayer arrested if the payment is not made immediately nor will payment be required immediately without providing an opportunity to question or appeal the tax assessment. A taxpayer receiving a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent should verbally request the agent’s credentials. Should the taxpayer have any suspicion about the credentials provided do not give the individual your personal information. Instead, verify your tax liability online and make payments using the IRS provided payment options. To report the scammer, fill out the online form on The IRS Impersonal Scam Reporting webpage or by calling 800-366-4484.
The ever-changing methods implemented by these criminals are becoming more complex by the day. Taxpayers should remain vigilant in combatting these thieves by staying educated. The IRS has issued multiple warnings and alerts to help taxpayers to easily identify scams and to help protect personal information. More tips and information about various types of tax scams can be found on the IRS website.