Scammers who ask for payment in gift cards often impersonate a well-known business or government agency, commonly with promises of tech or security support, which can be convincing. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft offering to help fix your infected computer for $200 in Target gift cards, that’s a gift card scam.
Both the number of reported gift card scams and total financial losses have increased over the last several years, typically peaking around the holidays and tax season. “Scammers favor gift cards because they are easy for people to find and buy, and they have fewer protections for buyers compared to some other payment options. Scammers can get quick cash, the transaction is largely irreversible, and they can remain anonymous.”*
What To Watch Out For:
- A call/email asking for payment via gift card (commonly a specific brand).
- An online acquaintance asking for help in the form of gift cards.
- The caller often uses scare tactics to pressure the victim into acting quickly.
What To Do?
- Hang up. No legitimate business or government entity would request payment via gift card.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Even if you didn’t pay, your report helps law enforcement stop scams and could help someone else.
- For more information, visit ftc.gov/giftcards
Remember: gift cards are for gifts, not payments!
*Source: FTC Consumer Protraction Data Spotlight, ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/data-spotlight/2021/12/scammers-prefer-gift-cards-not-just-any-card-will-do