Taxpayers should always be on the lookout for scams. Thieves want to trick people in order to steal their personal information, scam them out of money, or talk them into engaging in questionable behavior with their taxes. Scam attempts can peak during tax season, but taxpayers need to remain vigilant all year.
Gift card scams are on the rise. In fact, there are many reports of taxpayers being asked to pay a fake tax bill through the purchase of gift cards.
Here’s how one scenario usually happens:
- Someone posing as an IRS agent calls the taxpayer and informs them their identity has been stolen.
- The fake agent says the taxpayer’s identify was used to open fake bank accounts.
- The caller tells the taxpayer to buy gift cards from various stores and await further instructions.
- The scammer then contacts the taxpayer again telling them to provide the gift cards’ access numbers.
Here’s how people can know if it is really the IRS calling. The IRS does not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Demand that taxpayers pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they owe. All taxpayers should be aware of their rights.
- Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Revoke the taxpayer’s driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status.
People who believe they’ve been targeted by a scammer should:
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. They can also call 800-366-4484.
- Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. They should add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
- Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. The sender can add “IRS Phone Scam” to the subject line.
Reprinted with permission from the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants