FTC Warns of iTunes Gift Card Scam, Urges Consumers to Be on Alert

Once you tell a scammer the code from the back of an iTunes gift card, your money is gone for good

FTC Warns of iTunes Gift Card Scam, Urges Consumers to Be on Alert
Image: NCCC
July 8, 2016

If you're ever contacted by someone who requests payment via an iTunes gift card for money that you supposedly owe—you can bet that it's a scam.

In a blog post published this week, Bridget Small, a Consumer Education Specialist with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), urged consumers to be on alert for such cons.

"If anyone tells you to buy iTunes cards to pay the IRS, qualify for a grant, get a loan or bail out a family member, say no," Small wrote in the post. "They're trying to scam you. The only place to use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books."

According to Small, consumers have reported attempts by scammers to obtain iTunes gift cards as a form of "payment." These attempts include bogus IRS agents that tell people they owe back taxes and will be arrested if they don't make an immediate payment by purchasing an iTunes gift card and then giving the code on the back of the card to the "agent."

Phony "government grant" officers have also targeted consumers with promises of a large payout—but only after the person buys an iTunes gift card and reads the code to the "grant officer." Other scammers told people that a family member was in jail and the only way to help was to purchase an iTunes gift card to cover the cost of bail.

The only goal of these con artists is to steal money from their victims. There's also a reason they insist on using iTunes gift cards—once you tell a scammer the code from the back of the card, he takes control of the value of the card, and your money is gone for good. He can then use the code or sell it.

The FTC advises consumers who believe that they may have been the victim of this scam—and gave someone the code from an iTunes gift card—to contact Apple Support at (800) 275-2273 right away (you may have to spend some time on hold). Tell them what happened and ask if they can disable the card. Also, if you purchased the gift card from a third-party retailer, go back to that store and talk with their customer service staff.

If you're contacted by someone you don't know who wants you to send an iTunes gift card as a payment, report it to the FTC immediately.