What are Gift Card Scams? Skip to content
Back to Blog

What are Gift Card Scams?

May 20, 2024

What are Gift Card Scams?

May 17, 2024

Stay Alert: Recognizing and Avoiding Gift Card Scams in the Digital Age

In today's world, scams are getting trickier, targeting people through calls, texts, emails, or social media messages. One common scam tricks you into buying gift cards and sharing the card details. In some cases, scammers even convince the victims that buying gift cards will help them build their credit. Usually it starts with someone/somewhere offering fraudulent checks to someone else to deposit into their account. They are then advised to use those funds to purchase gifts cards and then send the scammer the gift card info which will ultimately result in the victim “building credit”. Those checks used to purchase the gift cards will eventually return, causing a negative balance the victim is now responsible for. Always beware if someone tells you to buy a gift card and asks for the numbers on the back. No matter what they say, it's a scam. Real businesses and government agencies will never ask for payment through gift cards. Keep a copy of both your gift card and the store receipt. These are important if you need to report the scam and get your money back. Stay alert and protect yourself from these scams.

Beware of Gift Card Scams: Recognize the Red Flags

Scammers are getting craftier with their deceptive schemes, often initiating contact through calls, texts, emails, or social media messages. One prevalent scam involves manipulating you into purchasing gift cards, such as Google Play, Apple, or Amazon cards, and then providing them with the card numbers and PIN codes. The requests may come in the form of an email that appears to come from your boss requesting gift cards as employee gifts.  Or you may receive a phone call pretending to be from the IRS telling you that you owe back taxes, and you must pay immediately by purchasing gift cards and giving the card numbers over the phone in order to avoid a hefty penalty. Here are some common strategies scammers use in gift card scams:

1. Creating a Sense of Urgency Scammers will often pressure you, claiming that immediate payment is necessary to avoid a dire consequence. They want to prevent you from taking the time to think through their demands or consulting someone you trust. Remember, if someone insists you pay them right away, it’s a scam. Slow down, don’t pay, and take a moment to consider the situation.

2. Directing Your Purchase Scammers may specify which type of gift card to buy, whether it’s an eBay, Google Play, Target, or Apple card. They might direct you to particular stores such as Walmart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens, and sometimes even suggest buying cards from multiple locations to avoid raising cashier suspicions. If a caller stays on the line while you go to the store and load money onto a card, hang up immediately. It’s a scam.

3. Requesting Card Details Once you’ve purchased the gift card, scammers will ask for the card number and PIN. These details allow them to access the money on the card, regardless of whether you still have the physical card. Don’t give out these numbers or send photos of the card. Take your time, and remember, if anyone requests this information, it’s definitely a scam.

Staying informed and being cautious can help you avoid falling victim to these deceptive tactics. Always be skeptical of urgent demands for gift card payments and consult trusted sources before taking any action.

Protect Yourself: How to Safely Buy and Use Gift Cards

Gift cards should only be used for gifts, not payments. When buying gift cards, go to stores you know and trust, and avoid online auction sites since the cards there might be fake or stolen. Check the gift card before buying to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and the PIN isn’t showing. Keep a copy of the gift card and receipt, and take a photo of both. This information will help if you need to report fraud and get a refund. Also, report the scam to the FTC to help protect others.

Related Links: 

Report Gift Cards Used in a Scam FTC YouTube

Video Banking

Thank you for contacting tvfcuLIVE Stream.

Video Banking is currently closed, but please check back during our business hours to speak with a tvfcuLIVE Stream Personal Consultant.