The IRS does not accept payment in the form of gift cards. Your credit card company, doctor’s office, collections agency and the once-in-a-lifetime cruise you’ve just won - without even having to enter - do not either.

Though scams have become more digital and complex, they still rely on exploiting our fears and desires. Most often, the goal of a scammer is to get as much as they can from you as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next target.

This translates into a sense of urgency when contacting you. This urgency may be in the form of pressure to pay back previously unknown bills/taxes as soon as possible to avoid a warrant, or in a very limited time offer that can only be held for the next few hours.

Modern financial transactions are easily traceable and have a number of safeguards along the way to protect you. Because of this, scammers find ways around these safeguards that may not appear as an obvious red flag when under pressure. One of these methods comes in the form of gift cards.

Gift cards are often sought after by scammers because they are readily accessible, good as cash and much harder to track. Many victims are tricked into believing they need to provide money to the scammer, but they only accept funds in “secure” methods such as pre-paid cards. This may seem like a convenient way to pay off these unexpected dues but remember … think hard before you buy a gift card!

Scammers often spoof credible business phone numbers. Stay vigilant! Even if the number may be one you recognize, the caller could be a scammer! If you feel you are being pressured, analyze the situation and ask yourself “could this be a scam?” If the answer to that is yes, hang up.

Don’t forget to report fraud attempts. Monitor your accounts regularly and be vigilant when using the internet or contacted by strangers. If you feel something is a scam, report it! For more information, visit our Security page.

Stay smart. Stay secure.

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