The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently released the results of an investigative study regarding scams involving gift cards, which have cost victims hundreds of millions of dollars over only a few years.
The study shows that payment with gift cards is a common request from scammers and involves several different scams like government impersonators, romance scams, fake online sales, illegitimate tech support, phishing emails, etc.
The data collected from the BBB Scam Tracker has revealed that gift card payment scams have TRIPLED over just the last four years and customers 65+ are more likely to have their money stolen.
If you are asked to pay by purchasing gift cards, you are being scammed. Gift card funds are NOT backed by fraud protection guarantees like credit/debit cards and are virtually untraceable.
Red flags to know and avoid:
- No government agency ever requests money through gift cards.
- Providing the numbers for a gift card is like sending cash, and the money is rarely recoverable. Gift card payment requests are a significant red flag for a scam.
- Keep the receipt when buying a gift card. Keep the physical card as well. These may help prove that the card was paid for and activated if problems arise later.
- Inspect the card carefully before buying it to be sure it has not been tampered with. Some scammers open the card to get the numbers on the back so that they can take the money when the card is later activated.
What to do if you’ve been scammed:
- Immediately report to the company that issued the gift card by calling the number on the back of the card.
- Notify the company/agency that the scammer impersonated as an authorized representative.
Better Business Bureau – file a complaint with your local BBB if you lost money or report a scam online at BBB.org/scamtracker.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – file a complaint online at FTC.gov or call 877-FTC-Help.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – file a complaint online at IC3.gov/complaint.
Consumer Financial Protection Agency – file a complaint online at ConsumerFinance.gov/complaint or call (855) 411-2372.