The holiday season is in full swing, but that doesn’t deter scammers, who never miss an opportunity to take advantage of other people’s goodwill. Read on to learn more about a common scam you should be on the lookout for this festive season.
What Is a Gift Card Scam?
Gift cards are a common and convenient option during the holidays, but they are NOT to be used to make tax payments.
Scammers often impersonate the IRS or other reputable institution and try to get people to pay fake tax bills with prepaid gift cards. As absurd as this may sound, criminals are great persuaders, so a lot of people fall for this scheme every year.
Above all, scammers prefer gift cards because they are difficult to trace or recover once the transaction has been completed. Therefore, the mere mention of gift cards should put you on alert.
Pay Attention to These Red Flags
These are some red flags that can help you identify scammers using this scheme:
- They contact you unsolicited either by phone, email, text, or social media.
- The criminals may tell you that you are somehow linked to illegal activity (for example, that your identity has been stolen and used for fraudulent purposes).
- Perpetrators may resort to threats and/or harassment to get you to pay a fake tax penalty.
- They instruct you to buy gift cards from different stores.
- Once you buy the gift cards, they ask you to provide the gift card number and PIN.
What to Do if You Detect a Gift Card Scam Attempt
If you believe you have been targeted by scammers, you can use the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting website or call 800-366-4484.
In the case of phone scams, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission, making sure to add “IRS phone scam” in the notes.
If you receive threatening or harassing phone calls, you can report them directly to the IRS to phishing@IRS.gov, including the phrase “IRS phone scam” in the subject line.
More Tips and Resources
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our work habits in unexpected ways. These are some previous posts you can check out for more ideas to deal with the challenges of the “new normal.”
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- Adapt to new consumer trends with these ideas and tools
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