October 24 2018

FTC: Gift Card Scams Up Drastically in Recent Years


If you get a call, email or letter demanding or trying to convince you to send the information on a gift card you are being scammed.

The Federal Trade Commission said that a new study shows that scammers demanding payment by gift card is up 270 percent from 2015.

“Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments,” the FTC said in a statement. “If someone calls with urgent news or a convincing story and then pressures you to pay them by buying a gift card, like an iTunes or Google Play card, and then giving them the codes on the back of the card – stop. It’s a scam.”

The ways scammers try and get people to send them gift card information varies, the FTC says. They might pose as IRS officials and say you’re in trouble for not paying taxes; or a family member with an emergency; or a public utility company threatening to shut off your water; or even a servicemember selling something before deployment. Or they might call with news that won a contest or a prize but to get it, you need to pay fees with a gift card.

“Scammers will say anything to get your money,” the FTC says. “And they know how to play into your fears, hopes, or sympathies. They like gift cards because, once they’ve got the code on the back, the money is gone and almost impossible to trace. But knowing how these scams work can help you avoid them, and you can help even more by passing on the information to people you know.”

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, report it as soon as possible. Call the card company and tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Then, tell the FTC about it – or any other scam – at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports may help law enforcement agencies launch investigations that could stop imposters and other fraudsters in their tracks.


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