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Mason City, IA 50401

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Home Blog Gift Cards are for Gifts — Not Scammers

Gift Cards are for Gifts — Not Scammers

Gift Cards are for Gifts — Not Scammers

Gift cards are a great way to give a gift. But did you know that gift cards are also popular with scammers? That’s because they are used as an untraceable method to steal your money. In fact, gift cards are the number one payment method that imposters demand.

Gift cards are like cash: if you buy a gift card and someone uses it, you probably cannot get your money back.

The key to avoid becoming a victim is to remember, GIFT CARDS ARE FOR GIFTS, NOT PAYMENTS. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is ALWAYS a scammer. 

If someone calls you and demands that you pay them with gift cards, that’s a red flag that a con artist is behind that call. They will try to play into your fears, hopes, or sympathies. There are several scenarios they may use: posing as an IRS official, someone from tech support, a family member, someone who wants to be your boyfriend/girlfriend, or they tell you you've won a prize. This is what usually happens:

  1. The caller says it’s urgent. The scammer says you have to pay right away or something terrible will happen. But you don’t, and it won’t.
  2. The caller usually tells you which gift card to buy. They might say to put money on an eBay, Amazon, Google Play, Walmart, Target, or iTunes gift card. They might send you to a specific store near you — often Walmart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens. Sometimes they say to buy cards at several stores, so cashiers won’t get suspicious. And, the caller might stay on the phone with you while you go to the store and load money onto the card. This is suspicious activity and a major red flag - STOP AND THINK.
  3. After you buy the card, the caller then will demand the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let them immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once they’ve done that, the scammers and your money are gone, usually without a trace.

You should never be pressured by anyone to buy gift cards and share the information on the card. If you are ever confronted by someone directing you to buy gift cards for some sort of payment, HANG UP! Also, NEVER give out financial or personal information without hesitation or research. Do you really know who this person is? If anything seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

What if I paid a scammer with a gift card?
If you think they’ve been scammed, have been a victim of fraud, or are wondering if something is legitimate, please contact us at 800-423-1602. Also, if you paid a scammer with a gift card, tell the company that issued the card right away. When you contact the company, tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Ask them if they can refund the money. If you act quickly enough, the company might be able to get the money back. Lastly, tell the store where they bought the gift card as soon as possible. 

For more information relating to scams and online safety, check out the following resources:

Article content provided by Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information.


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