The Common Denominator In Most Tax Scams

There’s a new tax scam on the rise that is being reported across the country. Fraudsters are getting extremely creative and will stop at nothing to fool the public into getting what they want: your money. In these new scams, criminals are calling taxpayers over the phone and demanding they make an immediate payment via prepaid debit card, claiming it’s linked to the EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payer System). The person will claim to be from the IRS and insist that they have already sent two certified letters that have been returned as undeliverable. They threaten arrest if they do not pay immediately. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney, or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

We know, reading this sounds so bogus but remember, lots of people fall for scams. We wrote about this recently: Would You Take the Bait? Why Phishing Scams Should Concern You.

The common denominator for tax related scams is the instruction to make a payment, usually to a debit card.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “Scams and schemes don’t take the summer off.” It’s important to stay vigilant and to keep your clients in the loop about the latest scams. That’s why we created the Tax Scam Roundup, a list of scams as they come up (we’ll be adding this recent one to the list). Check it out here: Tax Scam Roundup: Know What You’re Up Against.

Here are some facts to share with your clients:

While the EFTPS is a system for paying federal taxes, it does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. The system is automated and taxpayers will never receive a call from the IRS about it.

Making payments electronically is risky. If you make a payment to the IRS by mail, make sure to verify the IRS address in Washington, DC and make the check payable to “Internal Revenue Service” (not “IRS”). A check issued to IRS might be changed to a different name, such as MRS MARY JONES.

The IRS will never angrily demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

For more on protecting yourself and clients from tax scams, check out this post: Protect Yourself and Clients from Cybercrime.