A:

The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) is a free tax payment service offered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help individual and business taxpayers pay their federal taxes electronically. To use the service, you must first enroll online by entering your Taxpayer Identification Number (your Employer Identification Number if you're enrolling as a business, or your Social Security Number if you're enrolling as an individual), your banking account information, and your name and address as they appear on your IRS tax documents. Approximately one week after you enroll online, you will receive a PIN (Personal Identification Number) in the mail, and you can complete your online registration and begin making payments.

Phishing scams are one of the potential dangers of using the EFTPS system. These scams occur outside of the EFTPS website. In 2010, for example, fraudulent emails targeting EFTPS users were circulated with the subject line: Your Federal Tax Payment ID: 010363124 has been rejected. A link in the email prompted recipients to update their information, but instead installed malware used to intercept their online banking transaction data.

The IRS website warns, "The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov."

The EFTPS website protects sensitive tax payment data by using firewalls and internal security policies to ensure that you and only you can make, cancel, and inquire about your tax payments. According to the EFTPS website, "Every secure interaction involving EFTPS online requires identification and authentication of each user. EFTPS online identifies and authenticated each taxpayer using his or her Taxpayer Identification Number, Personal Identification Number and Internet password. Without these key pieces of information, you may not use many of the functions of EFTPS online."

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