Consumer Alerts

    iTunes Gift Cards Cannot Pay Back Taxes


    September 21, 2016

    Criminals have found a new way to scam Arkansans out of their hard-earned money using some of their old cons. These scammers are still trying to convince people that they owe back taxes or that their favorite grandchild is in trouble in another country, but instead of requesting money be wired to them immediately, the criminals are asking for the money via Apple iTunes cards or gift cards.

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to tell Arkansans that iTunes cards and other gift cards cannot be used as payments to government entities.

    “Con artists are convincing and understand how to intimidate and push the buttons of good-hearted Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And now they are persuading consumers to load gift cards and turn over the card’s serial number, giving the scammer control of the value on the card. A gift card can never be used to pay taxes or fees.”

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about avoiding falling victim to these convincing scams.

    • No government agency will ever request payment using an iTunes card or any gift card.
    • Ask yourself if this could be a scam before reacting and turning over any amount of money.
    • Never give the serial number of a loaded gift card or wire money based on any unsolicited phone call.
    • Verify the information given by the caller. Call the family member or government agency directly, and remember that scammers can spoof caller ID systems.

    The FTC has reported that phony IRS agents are telling consumers they owe back taxes and would be arrested soon unless they buy a gift card and turn over the code. Con artists posing as government grant officers promise a big payout after the consumer purchases a gift card and reads them the code. While other scammers have convinced consumers that their grandchild is in jail and the only way to help is to buy a gift card and give them the code, according to the FTC.

    The FTC has received reports of scammers requesting iTunes and Amazon gift cards or prepaid debit cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit or Vanilla. Once the code is turned over, the criminal has control of the card value. Once the value is redeemed, the consumer cannot get the money back.

    Call the company from which the card was redeemable to, and the card can be disabled if the money has not yet been spent. Report this scam to FTC.gov.

    Arkansans who receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or asking for money are encouraged to call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or file a complaint online at FTCComplaintAssist.gov by using the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

    For more information about other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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