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WASHINGTON — Banknote is not baron aback it comes to the latest annular of scams.

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The Federal Trade Commission has issued a admonishing to consumers that abyss are assuming as government admiral and allurement bodies to use a allowance agenda to pay a artificial tax bill or get a new Medicare card.

This blazon of abomination is abacus up to big bucks. The FTC said victims appear accident $20 actor to such artifice in 2015. In aloof the aboriginal three abode of this year, the losses accept been $53 million.

“We absolutely capital to complete the alarm,” said Monica Vaca, accessory administrator of the FTC’s Division of Customer Response and Operations. “If bodies get a anxiety from somebody who is alarming them about article and they’ve got to booty actual activity to abstain some abhorrent affair accident to them like actuality fined or arrested, and there’s a appeal to be paid by allowance card, boy is that anytime a red flag. That anxiety is a scam, and bodies should adhere up.”

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The absorption to allowance cards is allotment of the FTC’s new online action to dig through the complaint abstracts they accept and spotlight assertive trends. Millions of consumers book complaints to the FTC every year about actuality ripped off. This gives the bureau an acumen into the latest tricks that con artists use to blackmail people.

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The cardinal of consumers advertisement that “impostor” scammers accept accepted to be paid with allowance cards or reloadable cards has skyrocketed, the FTC said in its aboriginal abstracts snapshot.

In 2015, aloof 7 percent of bodies who articular their acquittal adjustment as allotment of a artifice address to the FTC said they had acclimated a allowance card. But so far this year, 26 percent of such letters adumbrated that a allowance agenda was acclimated to pay a doubtable impostor. That’s a 270 percent increase.

Impostor scams appear in assorted forms. Bodies are accepting calls from abyss claiming that a admired one is in agitation and needs money. In one scheme, a addition may affirmation you accept to pay a fee to get your new Medicare card. Not accurate — Medicare cards are free.

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The betray ability absorb addition assuming to be from a government bureau such as the IRS. Aloof to be clear: The IRS would never appeal acquittal via a allowance card.

The IRS betray is decidedly heinous. Con artists, who generally ambition seniors, anxiety bodies into cerebration they accept an behind tax bill and that if they don’t pay up appropriate way, they could be arrested.

From January to September of this year, 54 percent of government-impostor scams complex the use of a allowance agenda or reloadable acquittal card, according to the FTC. The aing best accepted adjustment of acquittal was a wire transfer, at 16 percent. In aloof 5 percent of the appear cases, the con artists ask for cash.

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Vaca said Google Play and iTunes cards were the top two types of allowance cards victims were asked to buy. Forty-two percent of bodies who said they paid a bluff application a allowance or reload agenda were instructed to pay in iTunes (23.7 percent) or Google Play (18.3 percent) cards.

There are three affidavit why allowance cards are more the con artist’s adopted acquittal method, Vaca said. The transaction is abundantly irreversible for the consumer. It’s quick money, and the bluff can abide anonymous.

Vaca said that victims are generally told to go to a above retail abundance such as Ambition or Walmart and buy allowance cards. Sometimes the scammers absolute them to go to assorted food so as not to accession an anxiety with an active accountant who may catechism why so abounding high-value allowance cards are actuality purchased.

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Victims are again instructed to blemish off the aback of the cards and to broadcast the activation codes.

The FTC is auspicious consumers to acquaintance retailers aback they’ve collapsed for a betray application a accurate allowance card. On ftc.gov chase for “Paying scammers with allowance cards.” You’ll acquisition acquaintance advice for the best accepted retailers acclimated in the scams — Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

Your affairs are appealing abbreviate to get any of your money back, but anxiety anyway, the FTC says.

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Also, acquaintance the bureau at ftc.gov/complaint or anxiety (877) FTC-HELP. The FTC additionally recommends that you address the adventure to your state’s advocate general. For a advertisement of the appointment in your state, go to naag.org.

The composure of these actor scams can allurement alike the best alert person. So aloof accumulate this in mind: Allowance cards are for gifts.

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