If anyone calls you and tells you that you owe back taxes and can pay them with an iTunes gift card, beware: this is just the latest scam cooked up by thieves to part you with your money.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network is providing consumers with tips to help them guard themselves and their bank accounts from criminal mischief, in light of this most recent gift card ruse.
“Consumers need to be aware of new and ongoing frauds and scams that threaten their financial resilience,” said AARP’s Bob Gallo. “The AARP Fraud Watch Network provides useful tools and resources consumers can use to protect themselves and their money.”
The scam happens like this: you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, informing you that you owe state and federal taxes from years ago. They tell you that you could be arrested immediately if you don’t pay the back taxes right away.
Then, once you’re scared, they tell you to buy an iTunes gift card and put the amount you owe on the card. They say they will then call you back and you can give them the 16-digit code on the back of the card to complete the payment. Once you’ve done this, the fraudster will sell the iTunes gift card code on the black market and run off with the cash.
The AARP Fraud Network is spreading the word that the IRS only accepts checks, cash, and credit cards as forms of payment. Apple’s iTunes gift cards are only good for purchases on the iTunes store or the app store. They would never be used to pay taxes to the IRS, or for any other purpose than to buy music, games, or other things you can purchase in the app store or the iTunes store.
If you are targeted by this scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately. Do not agree to pay anyone using an iTunes gift card. And know that if you really owed back taxes, the IRS would not call you up and threaten to put you in jail. They would write you a letter, and you would have ample warning before such a dire consequence was even a possibility.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network was launched in 2014 to help Americans identify and avoid scams and identity theft.
Consumers can sign up for free Fraud Watch Network email alerts at the AARP website.