Scam Phone Calls – The Threat Expands

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In previous postings on our website, we discussed various attempts by con artists to scam taxpayers. Recently, the Internal Revenue Service issued another warning of such tax-related scares directed at taxpayers across the country.

“We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.  “Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands to pay by purchasing and transferring information involving a gift card or iTunes card.  Taxpayers can avoid these and other tricky financial scams by taking a few minutes to review the tell-tale signs of these schemes.”

THE MECHANICS OF THE SCAM

The most recent threat involves the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (“EFTPS”).  Callers to taxpayers allege that certified letters regarding unpaid taxes have been returned as undeliverable to the IRS.  The caller threatens that an arrest is imminent if payment is not made immediately by a specific prepaid debit card.  The taxpayer is assured that the card is linked to the EFTPS.  Some of these calls are prerecorded with an urgent message asking for a call back.

In other scenarios, callers are posing as private collections firms retained by the IRS to collect overdue taxes.  In practice, the IRS only recently began sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies.  The IRS-authorized firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has outstanding over a period of years.  The IRS would have previously contacted taxpayers in writing about their tax debt.

Generally, the first contact a taxpayer receives from the IRS is a notice through the U.S. Postal Service.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

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.  The IRS will usually first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.  All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury and never to third parties.
  • Threaten to immediately have a 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, please contact your Buchbinder service team.

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