Gift cards may be a popular holiday gift from family and friends, but don’t be tricked into believing they are a way to pay taxes.

During National Tax Security Awareness Week, the IRS urges taxpayers to protect themselves from fraud. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to deceive individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.

“The IRS doesn’t call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer,” said Clay Sanford, an IRS spokesman. “Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.”

Many taxpayers have encountered individuals impersonating IRS officials – in person, over the telephone and via email. Don’t get scammed. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill. See Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts on IRS.gov for more details.