Recognizing Gift Card Scams
Has someone ever approached you with a request for payment using a gift card? It might appear tempting at first glance, but it’s crucial to recognize that this is most likely a scam. Scammers are skilled in manipulation, and falling prey to their schemes is surprisingly easy.
Here are some prevalent examples of gift card scams:
- Fake Debt Collector Call: You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or debt collection agency, asserting that you owe overdue taxes or payments.
- Tech Support Scammer: A fraudulent email, seemingly from tech support, states they’ve identified an issue with your computer.
- Bogus Bill Discount: Your electric or phone provider might promise a bill discount if you pay in advance using a gift card.
- Phony Prize Notification: You receive a call indicating you’ve won a cash prize, but there’s a catch – they sent the wrong amount in the check, and you need to return the extra money.
These scammers will promise to resolve the situation quickly and ask you to buy a gift card like Google Play, Amazon, VISA or Apple. Once purchased, they ask for the card numbers or will tell you how to send the cards to them. Once the card or card number is in their hands, the scammers disappear.
What can you do to protect yourself from these scams?
- Limit gift card use to small gifts among friends and family. Never as payment.
- Keep a picture of the card, pin and receipt before parting with it.
- If someone requests a gift card in exchange for payment, Decline. No business, service or government entity will request payment this way.
What if you realize you gave the card away to a scammer?
- Report it to the company on the Card. If you have the card number, the company can check the balance and potentially freeze the card. If you also have the receipt and there is still money on the card, some company’s will offer refunds. So always ask. The sooner you report the more likely the scam can be stopped, but don’t be afraid to report it at anytime.
- Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov so they can track, help stop the scams and protect others.
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