Gift cards are for GIFTS, not payments

posted by Mike Burke on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 in SHAZAM Blog

Holiday gift giving may be over, but scammers demanding gift cards as payment to keep fictitious trouble at bay remains very steady. This lucrative con involves fraudsters contacting victims with a made-up situation requiring payment by gift card to keep them or a loved one out of danger or being arrested. They claim to be from the IRS, a local sheriff’s office and even technology support companies. And they don’t want the physical card, just the numeric code or bar code associated with the card.  

Why gift cards? Because they spend like cash, allowing fraudsters to make purchases immediately and anonymously, and to the tune of thousands of dollars in some instances. Typically, they’ll coerce the victim to read the card’s numeric code or bar code to them over the phone. As quickly as they receive the information, the gift card money is spent. Unlike with prepaid credit cards, the transactions are difficult to reverse once the scam comes to light. These swindlers can be very crafty and convincing in their pitches, but don’t let your accountholders fall for it!

What to do

  • If you get a phone call from someone telling you to make a payment with gift cards, hang up the phone. 
  • If you get an email from a company telling you to make a payment with gift cards, delete it

If you have any doubts the call or email is legitimate, contact the company yourself. Don’t call the number given to you on the voice message, and don’t respond to the email or click any of the links inside of it. Initiate the call yourself.

Most demanded gift card brands
Scammers are pretty particular, if you can imagine that, telling people to go to stores like Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens to buy specific brands of gift cards. According to the FTC, eBay is now the gift card of choice, replacing Google Play in the decidedly un-coveted top spot, which earlier replaced iTunes as the top card brand. 

Check out the FTC website for more information. You can download and print materials to help bring attention to this type of fraud.

Gift card are for gifts and only for gifts. Don’t let your accountholders get scammed. Share this information with them today!

SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. provide this blog for general informational purposes only. Our blog may be shared by a direct link wherein the content remains as originally presented and has not been altered. SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. assume no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the blog. By using this blog, reader agrees that the information published does not constitute nor is a substitute for legal advice which should only be sought from a qualified, licensed attorney. 


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