PSA: Apple Warns Users That They Can’t Pay Taxes with iTunes Gift Cards

Tim Cook Cnbc Credit: CNBC
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Believe it or not, Apple is officially warning customers that they can’t pay their taxes using iTunes gift cards.

Apple Store employees are advising iTunes gift card buyers that they cannot be used for paying taxes. Customers at Apple Stores across the country must then accept the warning on point-of-sale systems before they can continue their purchase, AppleInsider reported.

Apple’s iTunes gift card packaging has also been updated with a new warning line, stating that it “cannot be used for payments outside of U.S. App Store or iTunes Store, including taxes.”

What’s Going on?

That may sound a bit ridiculous, but the warnings are presumably an effort to protect Apple consumers against an unfortunately common type of scam.

You may be familiar with it. If you aren’t, it works something like this: a scam caller will ring your device and say that you owe a bunch of money to the IRS. The fraudster will claim to be an IRS representative and say that the call recipient must pay their taxes or be arrested.

Scam calls like these aren’t unheard of, but many of them rely on an unlikely source of payment — iTunes gift cards. Typically, these fraudulent calls involve having a victim go to a local store, buy an iTunes gift card, and then read the card number back to the fraudster.

While we don’t have any current data on how common this scam is, it is apparently rampant enough for Apple to take action on its own.

Scam calls and robocalls aren’t always one and the same, but the latter type of call has become increasingly common over the past few years. Luckily, government entities, carriers and device makers are all taking steps to help curb robocalls.

What Do I Do?

If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, the best thing to do is just to hang up. The IRS doesn’t cold call people when they owe taxes. If the agency actually needs to get a hold of you for an unpaid tax bill, they will send you an official letter first.

The IRS has additional information on phishing and scam calls on its website. The agency also advises users who receive any type of IRS-related scam calls to report them via phishing@irs.gov.

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