Phone Scam Alert: Fake Certified Letters

Taxpayers should be aware of the most recent scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. 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.

EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically using the Internet or by phone using the EFTPS Voice Response System. EFTPS is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Since EFTPS is an automated system, 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.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. If you receive such as phone call, do not give out any information. Hang up immediately and 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. You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

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 more information about scams, visit the "Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts" page on IRS.gov. If you believe you've been a victim of a phone scam, don't hesitate to call the office for assistance.