We always need to be on the lookout for scams.  We get hit by phone calls so often it is almost routine.  The IRS often alerts subscribers to their newsletters of the latest scam.  One scam on the rise involves gift cards.  These scammers are trying to gather information through conversation or even threats.  They can be very convincing. 

Here is a likely scenario. 

  • The scammer calls posing as an IRS agent and informs the target that their identity has been stolen.
  • The fake agent will spin an elaborate yarn about opening fake bank accounts.
  • Now the target is confused and scared, so the scammer tells them to buy gift cards from various stores and await further instructions.
  • After a few days, the scammer calls and asks for the gift cards access numbers.
  • The target / victim has spent the money and gives the scammer the access numbers.
  • The scammer can use these numbers to buy stuff or sell the cards on any number of websites.

How can you tell if the caller is scam artist?

  1. It is exceedingly rare for the IRS to ever call a taxpayer.  Be suspicious.
  2. All IRS agents have an identifying number, sometimes called a badge number.  They are required to give their name and this number at the start of any call regardless of who initiates it.  Most agents that work phones are so used to giving this information, they do it without thought.
  3. Agents will never demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.  Anyone making such demands is not an agent.
  4. The IRS first mails bills to the taxpayer.  There will be 30, 60, and 90-day letters.  These letters give specific guidance on how to pay the bill or who to call to ask questions.   
    1. As a side note, the best course of action when you receive a letter from the IRS is professional representation.
    1. If a caller demands payment, especially using a debit card, gift card or wire transfer, hang up.
  5. Scammers may threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement agencies to arrest the target for non-payment.  IRS agents are forbidden by law from such conduct.
  6. Scammers may threaten to revoke your driver’s license, business license, or immigration status.  The IRS couldn’t do any of these simply because they have no jurisdiction on driver’s or business license (local) or immigration status (ICE).

What to do if you believe you’ve bee targeted by a scammer.

  1. Hang up.  Do not engage.
  2. You can report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  They can be reached at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting or 800-366-4484.
  3. You can also report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov.
  4. If you get an unsolicited email claiming from the IRS, it is false.  (They don’t initiate via email.)  You can send such emails to phishing@irs.gov.  Add IRS Phone Scam” to the subject line.

Here is the bottom line.  If you get a call or an email from someone claiming to be the IRS, it is extremely unlikely to be anything but a scam.  Do not engage.  Do not respond.  Protect your identity.  If you have any questions about any communication give us a call at Books, Taxes & More (678-717-9818) or email us at steve@bookstaxesatl.com.