IRS doesn’t take iTunes cards as tax payment

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The main tax season is over, but the tax scams continue. The latest is a twist on the Internal Revenue Service agent impersonation call.

This time the crooks are telling victims to send iTunes gift cards to cover unpaid tax bills.

The payment method should be the tip-off that the call is a con. There are many ways to pay a tax bill. A gift card to download music is not one of them.

It also is an indication that the criminals are older, since most younger music lovers nowadays stream rather than download their favorite songs.

No prepaid payments

My music delivery assessment notwithstanding, tax scams are no joke.

Tax identity theft and refund fraud has exploded. During the 2016 filing season, the IRS said it saw an increase of around 400% in phishing and malware incidents.

The IRS and its state and private tax industry partners are making some progress in slowing the crime. But the con artists, as the iTunes ploy demonstrates, are creative.

And many honest taxpayers are intimidated at the mere mention of the IRS.

So be skeptical of any calls ostensibly from the IRS.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, which issued the iTunes IRS impersonation scam alert, also reminds taxpayers that other fake tax callers sometimes seek payments on various types of prepaid credit cards, including Green Dot, MoneyPak and Reloadit cards.

“Any call requesting that taxpayers place funds on an iTunes gift card or other prepaid cards to pay taxes and fees is an indicator of fraudulent activity!” said TIGTA, emphasizing its warning with the exclamation point.

Pay only Uncle Sam

In addition, the tax oversight group reminds taxpayers that all due tax payments go directly to the U.S. Treasury.

“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,” warns TIGTA.

If you get any type of tax-related phone call that seems suspicious, hang up and report the call to TIGTA’s scam reporting page. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Finally, if you do happen to inadvertently share some private information or fear that your data has been compromised, check your credit reports. You can monitor your personal data at myBankrate.

You can also keep an eye on tax news, filing tips, calculators and more at Bankrate’s Tax Center.

And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @taxtweet.