IRS warns of new phone scam

Cell phone file photo. (Image courtesy of MGN Online)

WISCONSIN (WLUK) -- The Internal Revenue Service is warning people to beware of a new phone scam.

The scam consists of a caller who demands an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System EFTPS.

The scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells people about two certified letters that were supposedly sent to the taxpayer but returned through the mail as "undeliverable." Then, the scammer threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card and tells the victim not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney of their local IRS office until after the payment is made.

"This is a new twist to an old scam" IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a news release. "People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call."

The IRS says this scam is being reported throughout the country and warns taxpayers to be alert.

EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically via the internet of over the phone and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. EFTPS is offered free by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Additionally, because EFTPS is an automated system, taxpayers would not receive a call from the IRS.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that it will never:

  • Use email, text messages, or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as issues involving bills or refunds.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the chance to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit/debit card numbers over the phone.

For anyone who does not owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, the IRS says taxpayers should not give out any information and hang up right away.

Taxpayers should then contact the Treasury inspector General for Tax Administration to report the scam using either the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting webpage or calling 800-366-4484.

For anything who thinks they may owe taxes, they should view their tax account information online at to see the actual amount they may owe, or they should call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 so IRS workers can help.

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