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IRS warns of new phone scam demanding tax payments

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PHOENIX – The Internal Revenue Service has issued a warning over a new scam involving criminals phoning people and demanding tax payments.

The new ploy involves scammers claiming to be from the IRS and telling victims about certified letters sent to the taxpayer via the mail, but returned as undeliverable. The crook then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card.

The scammer tells the person that the debit card is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Victims are also warned not to contact their tax preparer, attorney or local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

The IRS says the EFTPS is a free service and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Also, taxpayers will not receive a call from the IRS as the EFTPS is an automated system.

The IRS offers these tell tale signs of a scam, saying they 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.