Maryland taxpayers be warned about phone scam involving certified letters, debit cards

— Comptroller Peter Franchot, is warning taxpayers about a new scam linked to the Internal Revenue Services’ Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) in which fraudsters call to demand immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. The scam is being reported throughout the county.

In this latest scheme, a caller 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 it is actually entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim also is warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

“If you get a call like this, the best thing is to simply hang up. Do not share your personal or identifying information and do not send a prepaid debit card,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said. “My agency stands ready to help any Maryland taxpayer who gets a call like this. My agents are united in our goal to protect our citizens from con artists who want to steal your money and your private financial information.”

The EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically using the Internet or via phone and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Since it is an automated system, taxpayers won’t receive a call from the IRS. Taxpayers also have several options for paying a real tax bill— not just a specific one.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said, “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 Comptroller’s Office advises taxpayers not to reply to phone calls or emails asking for confidential information, most especially Social Security numbers, birth dates, salary information or home addresses.