Scammers are everywhere these days. They have all the nerve in the world and will go as far as impersonating the Internal Revenue Service to get your money. The IRS is a perfect cover because people are generally fearful of this government agency. Fear persuades victims to comply with the scammers demand, even if the demand seems unreasonable. And what qualifies as unreasonable? How about asking for the card and pin number from one of your gift cards.

Back in the good old days scammers wanted your bank account or credit card number. Now they are accepting gift cards. As unbelievable as this may sound, you could get a call from an “IRS agent” that asks for your gift card information. We are not talking about Visa and Mastercard. We are talking Olive Garden, Lowes, etc. Rest assured this is 100% a scam because the IRS does not accept gift cards as a form of payment for tax debts.

Here is how a typical IRS scammer operates. They get a hold of your phone number and call with a fake story involving back taxes owed to the IRS (other forms of communication they may use include text messages, emails and social media). They pretend to be an IRS agent and threaten you with fines, jail time and other consequences if you do not settle your debt immediately. The scammer typically asks for bank and credit card information first. If you tell them you don’t have those type of accounts, they move on to gift cards. If you tell them you don’t have any gift cards, they tell you to go out and buy some and wait for them to call back to get the information. If you refuse to comply, they make a few more threats but eventually hang up and move on to the next potential victim. The key to protecting yourself is to not give in to their demands.

Keep in mind the IRS will not call and demand money from you out of the blue. The IRS follows a very basic process to collect tax debts. They mail out one or more notices before they call you. If you do not respond to the notices, an IRS agent may give you a call but will NEVER demand an immediate payment by gift card/debit card/ wire transfer, threaten to send law enforcement to your home or threaten to revoke your driver license. If you start hearing things like that, you need to hang up and report the interaction to the following agencies:

  1. Treasury Inspector General – https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml
  2. Federal Trade Commission – https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
  3. Internal Revenue Service – send a detailed email to phishing@irs.gov

Remain vigilant in these days of deceit. Scammers will stop at nothing to separate you from your money.

Joe Wright CPA PLLC provides the information in this blog as a general guide. Tax laws are extremely complex, and every taxpayer is unique. Some or all of this information may or may not apply to you. We provide simplified situations to clarify some of the major aspects and highlights of the topic at hand. Some of the language used is casual and may be misconstrued. Please make an appointment with us soon to discuss your particular circumstances.