Didn’t get those certified letters from the IRS? Don’t worry. They weren’t real.

Who Is It Targeting: Taxpayers

What Is It: Phishing scam that uses extortion to steal money

What Are They After: IRS scams have been around for quite some time, and they originally relied on perceived authority—the caller claiming to be an IRS agent—to trick you into paying your allegedly owed taxes. Now, with the widespread awareness campaigns against this sort of scam, criminals are switching gears and going for threats.

The IRS is now warning the public about reports of a twist on the tax collection scam. The caller claims that the government sent you two different certified letters—since a genuine tax issue would be handled via the US Postal system—but that those letters were returned as undeliverable. Failure to pay immediately via a prepaid debit card will supposedly result in your arrest.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Just because a caller says they’re with the IRS and claims that you’ve been mailed a letter, that doesn’t make it true.
  • Remember, the IRS does not send the police to arrest people, nor does it even threaten anyone with those words.
  • Most important, the IRS does not demand payment in the form of a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card, or another untraceable payment method.

Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from IRS.gov.


If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530.