department menu

Fake "Education Tax" Scam

The IRS and the FBI will never contact an individual by telephone regarding taxes owed or to request an immediate payment of past due taxes. All communications between the IRS and an individual are sent via U.S. mail. The IRS will never threaten to immediately send the police to arrest an individual for not paying taxes. In addition, the IRS will never require you to pay via a prepaid debit card or gift card. Unsuspecting college students have lost a significant portion of their savings to this crime.
How the scam works:

  • A scammer will contact a college student via telephone claiming to be from the IRS or FBI.
  • The caller ID is spoofed and displays the local FBI field office telephone number.
  • The scammer tells the victim they must remain on the phone the entire time and not hang up. At times this has lasted several hours.
  • The scammer will demand immediate payment of a fake “education tax” that has not been paid.
  • The student is told that if they do not pay their taxes that day, the caller will send the local police to arrest the student.
  • The scammer often requests payment via a major US-based retail chain store’s gift card or a popular tax preparation company gift card, which allows for the anonymous transfer of funds to the scammer.
  • The scammer nearly always will tell the victim which stores to go to and how much money to put on each gift card.
  • Once the gift card is purchased, the caller requests the account number on the card.
  • The scammer often states that this is not enough money, and instructs the victim to purchase additional gift cards at specific locations.
  • The prepaid gift cards are immediately used by the scammer, and the withdrawn funds are unrecoverable.

Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or FBI demanding immediate payment for taxes:

  • Immediately hang-up and do not provide any information.
  • Contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 to report the call or complete the form at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml
  • If you have been a victim of this scam or any other Internet-related scam, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov and notify your campus police and Information Security Office.