Maryland Comptroller issues warning for taxpayers about phone scam

MARYLAND - Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is warning taxpayers about a new scam associated with the Internal Revenue Services's Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

According to Franchot, in the scheme, fraudsters call to demand immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. The scam is being reported throughout the state.

The scheme also involves a caller claiming to be from the IRS. The caller reportedly tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but given back as undeliverable.

The scam artist then reportedly threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. Officials say that the scammer also tell the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when it is actually entirely controlled by the scammer.

The victim is also warned not to call their tax preparer, an attorney or a nearby IRS office until after the payment is made.

Comptroller Franchot says, "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. 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."

Officials say that the EFTPS is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically online or via phone and it does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. Since it is an automated system, officials say that taxpayers will not get a call from the IRS. Taxpayers also have multiple options for paying a real tax bill not just a specific one.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says, "This is a new twist to an old scam. 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."

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