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Giving season is upon us, with Father’s Day and graduation coming up, along with a cavalcade of weddings that have had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Gift cards are a popular choice – a booming business. According to AARP, global consumer data firm Research and Markets predicts that “the US gift card market will grow nearly 10% to over $ 170 billion in 2021.”
When it comes to special occasions, many will count towards giving the one gift everyone loves: gift cards. Unfortunately, scams involving gift cards abound: AARP published a survey in April 2021 which found that almost one in 3 adults (31%) said that “at some point or someone they knew was asked to buy a gift card to pay for an invoice, charge or other debt or obligation or to claim a prize. ” Here are some red flags you and your family need to watch out for to avoid gift card fraud:
Check the cards carefully
Buying gift cards in-store is one way to protect yourself from scams. But before you buy one, make sure the crooks haven’t gotten to it first. Examine the backs of the cards carefully to make sure the PIN code on the back has not been scratched. Scammers will remove the protective layer, take a photo of the card – with the pin now exposed – and put the gift card back on the shelf.
Scammers then check the card balances on retailer websites to see if there are any funds available. Once the money appears on the card, it is easy for them to use the funds or transfer the money to another account.
Beware of gift card email scams
You may also find yourself the victim of a gift card scam, such as bogus gift card email scams. Amazon is warning its customers about email and text scams that claim you’ve received an Amazon gift card. “Take steps to verify that it is from Amazon,” suggests the retail giant, noting that crooks can send phishing emails containing links designed to look like Amazon’s while They are not.
Other email scams involving gift cards may appear to be from someone you know, like your boss. According to UC Davis: âIn a typical scam, an employee receives an email claiming to be from their boss or other senior official or person of authority. It asks them to buy gift cards and send them back pictures, for reasons that will be supposed to be explained later. âIf you receive such an offer by e-mail, do not click on any link – and mark it as spam.
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You should never have to give a gift card to get goods or services
Another gift card scam occurs when someone asks you to pay for goods or services with a gift card and does not accept any other form of payment. If it’s not the same store that issued the gift card, it’s probably a scam. A legitimate sale will never require you to pay only with a gift card. âThe gift card application itself is the red flag,â Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs at AARP Fraud Watch Network, told Yahoo Life. “Legitimate businesses … do not accept gift card payments [only]. “
Stokes says if you’re asked to buy a specific gift card and “load a specific amount on it … then read the numbers on the back to the person you’re engaged with, that’s a scam – complete stop . “
Be especially careful if someone calls you with an offer that is too good to be true in exchange for payment in gift cards. “Someone might ask you to pay something by putting money on a gift card … and then giving them the numbers on the back of the card,” a spokesperson for the Division said. Federal Trade Commission Consumer and Business Education at Yahoo Life.
Be aware of who is calling and ask if you want to check your gift card balance; it is still a scam. Once you give the criminals the card information, they drain the account balance. You can usually check the card balance by going to the issuer’s website and entering your information there.
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