New IRS Scam References Bogus Certified Letters to Intimidate Victims

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 16, 2017
Phone Fraud

The IRS has warned people to be on alert for a new variation on a classic phone scam, where the fraudster will make up claims that two certified letters had been sent to the victim unanswered. The scammer will say that these letters went unanswered and so the victim now risks arrest unless they make a payment through a prepaid debit card that they claim is linked to the IRS's Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (the IRS said that it most certainly is not). 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.”

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 anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do:

  • * Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • * 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.
  • * Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do:

The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube videos.

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