IRS warns of new phone scam targeting taxpayers

- The IRS is warning of a new phone scam affecting people across the county. The scammers are reportedly calling people demanding prepaid debit cards as payment for taxes, at threat of arrest.

Scammers are telling victims that the debit card payment is linked to the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System when it is in fact not. The IRS says taxpayers won't receive a call from the IRS because the EFTPS is automated.

The scammers reportedly tell the victims that two certified letters were sent to the victims and returned as undeliverable, and immediate payment is due. The IRS says don't fall for it:

"This is a new twist to an old scam," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "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."

The IRS released these guidelines to keep you safe from scammers:

Tell Tale Signs of a Scam:

The IRS (and its authorized private collection agencies) will never:

  • Call 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.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who doesn't owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

  • View your tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount you owe. You can then also review your payment options.
  • Call the number on the billing notice, or
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. For more information, visit the "Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts" page on IRS.gov. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.

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