FCC Warns of Gift Card Scam Targeted at Seniors

PHOTO: iTunes gift cards are displayed for sale in a Best Buy Co. store in Chesapeake, Virginia in this Nov. 26, 2015 file photo.PlayLuke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The U.S. Federal Communication Commission is sounding the alarm over a phone scam that involves fraudsters pretending to be government officials and demanding payment via gift card.

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The agency said on Thursday that scammers pretending to be from the IRS, the FBI, local sheriffs departments and other law enforcement or government agencies were telling individuals that they needed to remit payment via a gift card or they could face arrest or legal action.

“Government agencies and legitimate companies never call consumers to seek payment via gift cards,” the FCC said in a statement.

It noted that older adults were especially being targeted.

According to the FCC, fraudsters are telling potential victims that they owe back taxes or a loved one has been caught doing something illegal, like texting while driving. The scammer then offers to make the problem go away if the victim makes a payment with a gift card.

The agency said that gift cards for Apple’s iTunes store were often requested.

The FCC is telling consumers who believe they’re being targeted by this scam to immediately contact the company associated with the gift card in question, as well as local police and the FCC through its consumer help service.

The agency said that writing down the phone number of the dubious caller can help it respond to such scam calls.

ABC News’ Whitney Lloyd in Washington contributed reporting.