Gift Card Scams – What you need to know!

Let’s start with the basics. Gift cards are for gifts – not for payments. We buy gift cards to give to someone as a present. A birthday, a graduation, an anniversary, a holiday, a promotion, or other gift giving reasons. Never ever, under any circumstances, buy a gift card and then read the numbers to someone you don’t know over the phone. That has scam written all over it.

How Do Gift Card Scams Work?

Gift card scams usually begin with a call, text, email, or an instant message from a social media account. Scammers will tell you to go to a specific store and they will tell you what type of gift card to buy. They will then ask you for the card number and the pin number from the back of the card. Once they have this information, it gives them access to get the money that you just loaded on the card. They don’t need a physical card to get the money.

What Might Scammers Say to Trick You?

Scammers might say they are from the government, such as the IRS or Social Security Administration. They might say they are from tech support and that something is wrong with your computer. They could say you’ve won a prize. They might even use other more stringent tactics and tell you they are a family member who has an emergency. This is called impersonating. They will say anything. Don’t fall for it!

Tips for buying gift cards:

  • Buy from stores that you shop at regularly, such as a grocery store or department store.
  • Inspect the gift card before you buy it. The protective sticker on the card should not be tampered with or scraped off in any way. Also check the pin number. If you spot a problem, give it to the store manager.
  • Keep your gift card receipt and even take a picture of the gift card (both sides).

 Report Gift Cards Used in Scams to the FTC at

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