Your Money: When Scammers Use Gift Cards

The Morning Show

When Scammers Use Gift Cards

This time of the year gift cards are hot items! We buy gift cards as holiday presents for family, friends, and people we want to thank for the good work they do for us. They are easy to buy and typically easy to use.

Unfortunately, scammers also find them easy to use. How can you protect yourself?

Why do scammers like to use gift cards?

Scammers like gift cards because it’s an easy way to transfer money digitally and the money cannot be traced.

What are typical frauds used by impostors?

Someone might call you and say they’re:

* IRS

* Tech support

* “Grandchild”

* Utility company

* Sweepstake or prize company

* Online auction site

The list goes on and on!

What are red flags that I should watch for?

The caller will often use common messages like:

* Urgency: “send money right away.”

* Stay on the phone and don’t tell anyone: “Buy the card and tell me the gift card number and PIN over the phone.”

* Threats: “your power will be turned off if you don’t buy a gift card now.”

If anyone tells you to pay by gift card, it’s almost always a scam.

What should I do if I pay a scammer with a gift card?

* Tell the company that issued the gift card right away. They may be able to refund your money.

* Tell the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint, or call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

For more information go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/paying-scammers-gift-cards.

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