‘Student tax’ scam returns

College students and parents are being warned about a bogus “federal student tax” that scammers want paid off on iTunes cards or other prepaid cards.

We warned consumers about this scam earlier this summer. But the Internal Revenue Service said last week that the agency impersonators are back and calling students as they head back to school.

The scammers demand that students or parents wire money or use prepaid debit cards that you buy at stores.

If the student or parent doesn’t comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police for arrest.

“Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike,” Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement. “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 encouraging college and school communities to alert parents and students about this fake “federal student tax.”

Luis D. Garcia, an IRS spokesman in Detroit, said sending a student off to college can be stressful enough for many parents, but scammers know how to get people off-guard.

“Of all the things parents and students may be concerned about, a fake federal student tax should not be one of them,” Garcia said.

Consumers in their late teens and early 20s could think they owe something as odd as a “federal student tax.” Everywhere you turn you spot some fee or demand for money when you’re heading off to college.

Remember, the caller ID can look legitimate because con artists know how to “spoof” numbers to make it look like the IRS or the police or the FBI is on the line.

Never give a credit card number over the phone to someone who claims to be from the IRS or a police department.

You can report tax-related scam calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at or 800-366-4484.

Scams can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at

Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press.