What Are the Dangers of Using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)?

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 (EIN) if you're enrolling as a business, or your Social Security Number (SSN) if you're enrolling as an individual), your bank account information, and your name and address as they appear on your IRS documents. Approximately one week after you enroll online, you will receive a PIN (personal identification number) in the mail you can use to complete your online registration and begin making payments.

Key Takeaways

  • The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) is a 24/7 service provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that allows taxpayers to make tax payments either by telephone or online.
  • While EFTPS uses secure servers, scammers pose the potential for phishing scams that try to acquire individuals' personal information.
  • In the past, fraudulent emails were sent that targeted EFTPS users, indicating that identification numbers were rejected or prompting users to follow an embedded link to change personal information.
  • Such a link, instead, installed malware on users’ computers and was used to intercept banking information.

Scams Affecting the EFTPS

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, it installed malware used to intercept their online banking information.

The IRS website warns, "The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts. Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related function to phishing@irs.gov."

Protecting Sensitive Information

The EFTPS website protects sensitive tax payment data by using "firewalls and implemented internal security policies to ensure 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 authenticates each taxpayer using his or her Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN or SSN), Personal Identification Number (PIN), and Internet password. Without these key pieces of information, you may not use many of the functions of EFTPS online."

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  2. Internal Revenue Service. "Electronic Federal Tax Payment System A Guide to Getting Started," Page 2.

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "Current Scams and Phishing Sites Posing as the IRS."

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "Report Phishing and Online Scams."

  5. Electronic Federal Tax Payments System. "Security."