This Tax Season, Watch Out for Gift Card Fraudsters

Every tax season, fraudsters and scammers work their way into taking advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers who are worried about staying compliant with the IRS. That’s why the Internal Revenue Service is always sharing safety tips and information that we can use to protect ourselves from scams.

Nonetheless, fraudsters keep finding ways to trick us into paying fake tax bills, so we need to make sure we remain alert to any suspicious phone call, letter, or email we might receive.

The most recent tax fraud consists of fraudsters and scammers contacting taxpayers and pretending to be IRS agents. Imposters call demanding gift cards as payment for fake tax bills, tricking taxpayers into buying gift cards from different stores and giving sharing the cards’ access numbers.

This type of tax scam has become so popular, that the IRS is taking measures to prevent more people from falling victims to this modus operandi.

The IRS is also warning taxpayers about a different version of the scam that gift card fraudsters are using. This consists of imposters calling taxpayers and telling them they are being victims of identity fraud theft.

In order to convince their victims, fraudsters tell them that the stolen identity is being used to open fake, suspicious bank accounts. As a result, victims feel a sense of urgency and worry about any potential damage to their data, which is why they end up buying gift cards that fraudsters eventually use.

One of the most effective ways to know if we are being targeted by a fraudster is because they will be demanding immediate payment and specify the method of such payment. Needless to say, the payment method of choice this season seems to be through stores’ gift cards.

Another way to identify potential scams is by getting information about how exactly IRS agents contact taxpayers. If the callers are threatening to send local police, immigration officers, or any other law-enforcement to our location, we are surely dealing with a fraudster. The IRS cannot have us arrested for having unpaid tax bills, neither can they claim they will revoke our driver’s license, business license, or our immigration status.

Even when this and other types of scams are more frequent during the end of the year and tax season, the IRS urges taxpayers to stay alert throughout the year. They also urge taxpayers who might think a fraudster has targeted them to report such calls by phone, to 800-366-4484, or by contacting the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission through their online complaint assistant, adding “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

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