IRS Scam Once Again Targeting Consumers With Recorded Messages Threatening Arrest

The calls give consumers 24 hours in which to call a number to make payment with gift cards

IRS Scam Once Again Targeting Consumers With Recorded Messages Threatening Arrest
Image: NCCC
October 8, 2018

The IRS scam is making its way across North Carolina again and targeting unsuspecting consumers who have fear of being arrested for unpaid taxes. It's just another variation of common scams already making the rounds that threaten arrest in exchange for iTunes gift cards. The goal is to feed on your fears and get you to make hasty payments through means that offer you no possibility of getting your money back. Just hang up on these scams.

"We have received a notification regarding your tax filings from the headquarters which will get expired in next twenty-four working hours. And once it gets expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local cops, as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you. The number to reach us is ###-###-####. I repeat ###-###-####. Thank you."

Police Won't Make You Pay A debt

These types of scams are designed to cause panic in order to get unsuspecting consumers to do a certain thing very quickly. There are many variations of the scam, whether it's the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) supposedly wanting money or a family member who is in trouble. One thing is certain: the local police aren't concerned with you paying back taxes or your debts. They have better things to do than getting you to pay your bills.

IRS has other ways of getting your money

The IRS doesn't need to call you in order to get any money you might owe. They usually start with letters. IRS agents will never try getting you to pay money over the phone and will certainly never ask for gift cards, credit cards, etc. And if you don't pay an IRS debt, the agency can get money through other means, such as garnishments. They don't need local police.

What do the scammers want?

These scammers are primarily after your money in the form of iTunes gift cards, but that doesn't mean they won't take something else if you hand it over, such as your personal information they can use to steal your identity or extort more money from you at a later date.

Why iTunes Gift Cards?

Scammers want money and they want it quickly, which is why they ask you to pay a certain way. It makes it easier on themselves getting the money and impossible for you to get it back. iTunes gifts cards are popular, available in most stores, and can be purchased on Apple's website for instant delivery. As soon as you load money on a gift card and give the code to scammers, your money is gone and you can't get it back.

don't pay by gift card or wire transfer

If you aren't shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn't pay with an iTunes gift card. No reputable business will accept an iTunes gift card as payment. Other gift card payments scammers might want include those from Amazon and PayPal, as well as other reloadable cards such as MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla. Although not as common as gift cards, scammers might ask you to use Western Union or MoneyGram, but this takes more effort on your part and isn't as successful as gift cards.

If you owe a debt to a business or government agency, you will never be asked to pay in one specific way, such as by gift card or wire transfer. If you are told you must pay in a specific way, or if you are told to pay by gift card, hang up immediately.

Report These Scams

It's important that you report these scams and other suspected scams to the Federal Trade Commission FTC and to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, and that you do so quickly. While it's easy to just hang up, your reports help track these criminals down and bring them to justice.

phone scams need to be reported immediately

Because data at phone companies are not kept for a standard period of time, it's important to report phone and text message scams as soon as possible to ensure that investigators can trace them. We're talking about background data, such as exactly how the call was routed and which providers serviced the call or text message. This data might only be available for a few days, so any delay could make it impossible to find the scammers.

Warning Signs of a Scam

The following are warning signs of phone and text message scams:

  • Requests to pay by gift card
  • Requests to pay in only one specific way
  • Threats of any kind, including arrest
  • Too good to be true
  • Asking for or 'just verifying' private information
  • Grammatical errors
  • Prerecorded calls
  • Any pressure tactics
  • Handling a payment for someone else
  • Unsolicited prizes or winnings
  • You just have to pay taxes or shipping charges
  • You trust me, right?
  • Anything that doesn't sound right
  • Anything that just doesn't feel right

If you did pay by iTunes gift Card

If you have been a victim of a scam involving App Store & iTunes Gift Cards, you can call Apple at (800) 275-2273 or contact Apple Support online. Apple may be able to deactivate the gift card if it has not been emptied.

Call to Gift Card Operators

While some companies who provide gift cards will post an occasional release about scams involving their gift cards, we have yet to find a company that features a prominent warning to consumers about scams involving their cards. Apple, for instance, has a page about gift card scams but no warning that we can find during the online checkout process or on their cards about these types of scams.

We would like to call upon companies providing gift cards to feature a prominent warning with the cards and at the start of the checkout process warning potential buyers about scams that use their gift cards. It's only the right thing to do. Warnings have the potential to prevent consumers from falling victim to the scams involving their cards.