Has the IRS called you, threatening arrest for missing payment? Hang up; you’ve been scammed

Have you gotten a call lately from a robotic voice telling you there’s a warrant out for your arrest if you don’t pay a tax debt?

Or that certified mail sent to you was returned and you owe money — today?

The Internal Revenue Service has sounded the alarm that, once again, old and new tax-related scams continue to hit taxpayers across the nation.

“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 IRS wants you to know it does not leave pre-recorded, urgent phone messages asking for payment or an immediate callback. If you get one of those calls, hang up and check your tax account status online or by phone at 800-829-1040.

Some of the scams include:

EFTPS scam

Scam artists call and demand immediate tax payment, saying they are from the IRS and that two certified letters mailed to your were returned, marked undeliverable. The caller threatens arrest if a payment is not made immediately with a prepaid debit card. Victims are told the debit card is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System when it really is controlled by the scammer.

The giveaway: Victims are warned not to talk to their tax preparer, attorney or the local IRS office until after the payment is made.

Private debt collection

Taxpayers should be wary of scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS has sent letters to a small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies. Only these IRS-authorized firms will be calling about a tax debt that, in many cases, is years old. The IRS also says it would have already made contact with taxpayers about their debt.

Scams targeting poor English speakers

In this scam, con artists approach victims in their native language, threaten them with deportation, police arrest and license revocation. Victims are told they owe the IRS money and must pay promptly through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. They also may leave “urgent” callback requests.

Here’s what the IRS says you should do:

Do not provide any information; just hang up.

Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration through the IRS’ scam reporting website or call 800-366-4484.

You also can report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Please add “IRS telephone scam” in the notes.

If you do owe the IRS money (or think you do), check your status this way:

View tax account details at IRS.gov. You can also review payment options.

Call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Taxpayers typically will first get several letters or notices from the IRS in the mail. To make sure a notice is legitimate, go to “How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door” on IRS.gov.

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