Gift cards are a convenient way to give gifts to friends and family but can also be used as a tool for scammers when they’re attempting to steal money from people.
Scammers typically try to target taxpayers by claiming they owe a balance to the IRS and will need to make their payment through gift cards. Scammers could also use a compromised email account to send out emails to unknowing taxpayers requesting gift card purchases for friends, family, or co-workers.
Optima Tax Relief reviews how to avoid gift card scams and what to do if you’re targeted by scammers.
Here’s how to avoid getting scammed:
- Scammers will attempt to request gift cards over the phone or by impersonating themselves as a government employee. They will typically request gift cards by sending a text message, email, and sometimes even through social media.
- Scammers will sometimes pose as an IRS agent and call taxpayers or leave voicemails with a callback number informing the taxpayer that they are facing criminal charges because they have an unpaid tax balance.
- A scammer will also attempt to threaten or harass a taxpayer by telling them about fake tax penalties.
- The scammer will instruct that payments be made on gift cards.
Taxpayers can distinguish a real or fake call made by the IRS because the IRS will never:
- Demand a specific payment method such as gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers. The IRS will typically send out a notice via ground mail to notify a taxpayer that they have a tax balance.
- Demand that taxpayers pay their taxes without offering an opportunity for the taxpayer to respond or appeal to the amount they allegedly owe.
- Threaten to bring the police, immigration officers, or other law enforcement in order to have the taxpayers for not paying their taxes.
- Threaten to revoke the taxpayer’s driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status.