With tax season gearing up, scammers will try anything, including posing as the IRS, to try to gain your financial information. Don’t be a victim. The Federal Trade Commission has some advice on how to avoid the tax-scam pitfalls and keep your information secure this tax season.

An ongoing tax scam works something like this: You get a call from someone who says they are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They say you owe back taxes. They threaten to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. They tell you to put money on a prepaid debit card and give them the card numbers.

The caller may even know some of your important information, such as your Social Security number. And the caller ID may even show a Washington, D.C. area code.

Don’t fall for it. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They won’t ask for credit card information over the phone. And when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not by phone, according to the FTC. Also, caller IDs can be faked.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money is gone. If you have tax questions, go to irs.gov or call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040.
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov or call 1.877.382.4357.

Filing a complaint helps the FTC’s investigators identify scammers and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. For more on tax scams visit irs.gov or ftc.gov.