IRS warns public about increase in 'gift card' scammers

IRS warns public about increase in 'gift card' scammers

By Janelle Guerrero-Miguel
HNN Summer Intern

The IRS is warning the public about an apparent increase in scams.

IRS impersonation scams in the form of automated calls are demanding tax payments be made with iTunes and other gift cards.

The IRS has seen an increase of "robo-calls" where scammers leave urgent callback requests informing taxpayers to settle their "tax bill."

The fake calls claim that this is the final warning before legal action is taken. Once the victim calls back, the scammers may threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver's license of the victim if they don't agree to pay.

"Taxpayers should remain alert for this summer surge of phone scams," said IRS spokesman David Tucker. "And watch for clear warning signs as these scammers change tactics."

"It used to be that most of these bogus calls would come from a live-person. Scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that settling tax bills by putting money in a gift card is a clear indication of a scam.

Here are some tips to prevent yourself from being a victim:

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will they call about taxes owed without sending a letter in the mail first.
  • Threaten to get the police or any other law enforcement involved
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question it or appeal that you owe.
  • Require that you submit your payment using a prepaid debit card, a gift card, or wire transfer.
  • Ask for debit and credit numbers over the phone.

If you get a call from someone who claims to be from the IRS asking for money and you don't owe any taxes, here's what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

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