A helpful hint for income tax filing season: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not ask you to pay back taxes with an iTunes Card. Crooks posing as IRS agents are out in force this year, and they’re adding a new wrinkle to their scam.
The Treasury Department reports that more than 10,000 victims have collectively paid in excess of $54 million as a result of tax phone scams since October 2013. Again, it may seem crazy, but the scams have been so successful that the Treasury Department was forced to issue a scam alert: “Any caller requesting taxpayers place funds on an iTunes gift cards or other prepaid cards to pay taxes or fees is an indicator or fraudulent activity,” it reads.
Scams of this type are attempted year-round, but income tax filing season sees even more scams where the bad guys attempt to capitalize on the average U.S. citizen’s fear of running afoul of the powerful Internal Revenue Service.
Pavia says he received a phone call from a scammer claiming to be collecting “back taxes” or another form of tax payments, via an iTunes gift card. The scammer told Pavia he could purchases an iTunes gift card for the amount of his “back taxes,” and then send the 16-digit redeem code over the phone.
After refusing to purchase an iTunes gift card, Pavia was told a warrant for his arrest was being issued. He was later sent a voicemail that included a callback number that was for a “call center” where an “operator” then attempted to get Pavia to give up his social security number.
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a scam alert in 2016, warning taxpayers that scammers were impersonating IRS and Treasury employees and were attempting to swindle them.
“As a reminder, any call requesting that taxpayers place funds on an iTunes Gift Card or other gift cards to pay taxes and fees is an indicator of fraudulent activity! No legitimate United States Treasury or IRS official will demand that payments via Western Union, MoneyGram, bank wire transfers, or bank deposits be made into another person’s account for any debt to the IRS or Treasury,” the agency said.
TIGTA asks victims of such scam calls to notify the agency.