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Tax scams: fraudsters ask for iTunes gift cards

From time to time we notice a particularly prevalent scam affecting iPhone and iPad customers and we do our best to let you know about it, so you don’t get caught off-guard. Recently, one of the most popular scams to watch out for has been a phishing scheme that cons users out of their personal details by posing as Apple and sending official-looking subscription confirmation emails.

Think that’s bad? A new report shows an even wilder scam attempt, with victims being asked to pay “back taxes” using iTunes gift cards. That’s right: iTunes gift cards. On paper it sounds like an obvious scam, but despite all odds it seems to be working and people are losing money.

Victims receive a threatening call claiming to be from the IRS, asking for missed taxes to immediately be paid by purchasing iTunes credit and reading out the 16-digit gift card number over the phone. What puts people on edge and makes them more susceptible to these tricks is the repeated references to fraud, IRS lawsuits, and arrest warrants. Scary stuff, but entirely bogus.

Tax season is prime time for this kind of scam, and they’re not just limited to iTunes gift card payments. It should go without saying, but don’t give any kind of payment details out over the phone as a result of a cold call. Jim Pavia of CNBC actually played along with one of these scam calls for as long as possible – it’s a pretty funny story, and the results are worth a read if you’re curious about the details to watch out for.

The US Treasury reports that over $54 million has been lost to tax-related phone scams in the past five years. Don’t join the list of over 10,000 victims!