College students across the country are being warned alongside their parents of a new "federal student tax" scheme that scammers are asking to be paid off through iTunes cards or another form of prepaid card.
The Internal Revenue Service is warning students and their parents of these scammers, who impersonate agency personnel, by calling students as they head back to school. The thieves push students to either wire money or use prepaid debit cards bought at local stores. Students or parents who refuse are met with aggression, as the scammer claims they will report them to the police and have them arrested.
"Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a news release. "As students and parents enter the new school year, they should remain alert to bogus calls, including those demanding fake tax payments from students."
The IRS is asking college and school communities to ensure that students and their parents are made aware of the fake "federal student tax." They add that the caller ID could seem legitimate because scammers know how to fake numbers to make them appear to be part of the IRS, police, or FBI, writes Susan Tompor for The Detroit Free Press.
A number of students spoken to by Alex Crescenti for KLEW TV said that although they are concerned about the new scam, they try to cover all their bases whenever they contacted by a company. Student Fallon Oher said that a good idea is to double-check where the information is coming from and the agency the person on the phone claims they are with.
Meanwhile, others say they are not worried. Student Juan Chiquito said he keeps track of his finances well enough, in addition to how much he has borrowed for school and how much he has on credit cards.
Scammers use a number of methods to try to get someone to pay them through iTunes cards, including soliciting W-2 information, verifying tax return information, and pretending to be from a tax preparation service.
According to the IRS website, there are five things the agency will never do. These include calling to demand immediate payment, demanding that a person pay taxes without offering an opportunity to appeal, require a specific method of payment, ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone, or threaten a person with police or other law enforcement action, reports Alicia Adamczyk for Money.
It is suggested that a credit card number should never be offered over the phone to someone claiming to be from the IRS or the police department.
The IRS states that if something like this has happens to hang up the phone immediately and call 1-800-366-4484 to report the scam call.