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Gift Cards — A Scammer’s Best Friend

Gift cards are a great way to give a gift, but did you know they are also among a scammer's favorite ways to steal money? If you ever get asked to pay a company or government agency in gift cards — no matter if the payment is for equipment, supplies, processing fees, or interest — it's probably a scam. 

For example,

You receive a threatening voice message from a scammer pretending to be with the IRS. They advise you that there is a warrant out for your arrest for tax evasion. You are then told you can pay your fine with gift cards. They ask you to purchase gift cards from big companies like Walmart, Target or CVS. Once the gift cards are purchased, the scammer asks you for the gift card numbers over the phone and quickly depletes the value of the gift card. 

Protect yourself

If you get a phone call from someone telling you to make a payment with gift cards, HANG UP! If you have any doubts about a company, never call a number provided to you on a voice message. Look up the company's number and call them back directly. If you receive a suspicious email, DELETE IT! Never respond to or click on any links provided to you in an email or a text message.

Here's three tips if you've been scammed:

  1.  Immediately call the store where the gift cards were purchased. They might be able to re-issue the gift card(s) before the scammer steals the money.
  2. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  3. Contact your local law enforcement to report the crime.

Stay safe out there.

Gulf Winds' Fraud Squad is a team of highly trained experts committed to protecting members from fraud and supporting members that have fallen victim to fraud. Visit our Fraud Center to find valuable resources and report fraudulent activity. 

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