BBB Scam of the Week: Electronic Federal Tax payments

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Monroe, LA (KNOE) - Joann Deal joined us in studio to talk about a new phone scam involving electronic federal tax payment system sending bogus certified letters, where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

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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.

"This is a new twist to an old scam," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call."

Here are signs of the scam:

* 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.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.