The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs warns county residents of all ages to hang up on impostor scams that seek payment in iTunes gift cards.

Consumers across the country have been frightened into sending thousands of dollars’ worth of iTunes gift cards to scammers who pose as police, attorneys, debt collectors or IRS agents.

Scammers who previously targeted grandparents have expanded their target groups to include younger consumers, including those who owe money on student loans.

In a typical call, a consumer is told to purchase iTunes gift cards to:

  • Avoid arrest for an unpaid student loan or other debt
  • Pay bail or court fees for a relative who has been jailed
  • Avoid being jailed or fined for unpaid taxes

No legitimate government agency or debt collector accepts payment in ITunes or other gift cards.

“Scammers’ game plan is to get you so upset that you overlook holes in their story,” said Sheryl Harris, Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs. “They push you to pay fast, while you’re still in a panic, so you won’t check out what they’re saying with someone else, be that a relative, police, the IRS or your lender.”

Protect yourself:

  • Hang up on any caller who makes threats or asks you to pay fines, debts, fees or bail with an iTunes card.
  • Never read off the numbers or codes from a gift card to someone who calls you demanding payment – that’s all a scammer needs to steal the card’s value.
  • Know that, by law, debt collectors are not allowed to threaten you with jail or scare you into making payments. No government office accepts iTunes payments.
  • Don’t tell scammers how you spotted them – it helps them perfect their game. Just hang up.

Report scam calls to the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs at 216-443-7035 or www.consumeraffairs.cuyahogacounty.us.