The holidays are generally a time to celebrate family and togetherness, taking the time to share the joy with those you hold closest to your heart. Unfortunately, it’s also a part of the year where scams and fraud tend to peak. Many criminals use the Christmas season as an opportunity to hit their victims when they expect it the least.
Currently, the IRS has issued its latest warning: There is a holiday gift card scam running rampant in the United States. Here’s what you need to know:
This scam, in particular starts, with an unknown caller. They will say they are a representative of the Internal Revenue Service. Remember, the IRS will never call you. They prefer to conduct business over mail. Anyone on the phone claiming to be an IRS agent should immediately raise red flags on your end.
The caller will then say that you have overdue taxes or penalties that haven’t been paid. The scammer can even go so far as to give you fake reference numbers for the “bills” in question. After which, he or she will request immediate payment in order to resolve these issues. There is also another variation to the scam in which the caller claims that your identity has been stolen and is being used to open new bank accounts. They direct you to pay him/her over the phone as an option to help get your identity back.
Gift Card Transactions
Because tracking bank account transactions is much easier than following the money trail on a gift card purchase, the fraudster will often ask for gift card numbers as the preferred method of recourse. They’ll ask the victim to go out and buy gift cards and will call back a day later in order to retrieve the numbers associated with each purchase. This should be another major red flag. The IRS will never ask you to pay with anything other than your own money. Gift cards are not considered legal tender for tax relief, and should never be given out over the phone to somebody you do not know.
Protect yourself and your family by being a little more vigilant this holiday season. Scams continue to evolve and diversify over the years, and the best way to stay safe is by arming yourself with knowledge. Know your rights, and know how the Internal Revenue Service operates, and understand that regardless of what the person on the other line says – you can always call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 for information on any disputes.
If you would like to learn more about tax schemes and what you can do to protect yourself from scammers, reach out to our team. The IRS will never threaten you with local police, immigration officers, or other law enforcement. If you believe you may be the victim of a scam, contact the IRS’ fraud division at 800-366-4484. For more information on other accounting topics, check out our blog.