Scam Corner: Did You Give Money On Gift Cards To A Scammer? It Might Not Be Gone For Good.

The Problem Is Big

Scammers continue to prey upon people and once a person is convinced that money needs to change hands, it is often one or more gift cards that the scammer requires for payment. So far in the first four months of 2024, over 10,000 reports of loss with gift cards have been reported to the FTC with over $54 million lost so far.

As a reminder, no legitimate company or government organization is going to ask for payment using gift cards. Gift cards are strictly that – cards meant to be given as a gift to someone.

Photo of a rack of Amazon gift cards for sale courtesy Mike Mozer under CC2 licenseWhy Use Gift Cards?

One reason that gift cards are so popular with scammers is because it is a method of transferring funds from the victim to the scammer in an untraceable way. When purchased the gift card is loaded with funds. The scammer is given the card number and PIN. They then drain the card with the information, never needing to actually have the card in hand. The money is gone with no way to get it back. Or is there?

Gift card issuers recognize that their cards are being used for crime and thus want to help consumers avoid this type of transaction. There may be some ways to get the money back.

What You Can Do To Get Money Back

If you buy a gift card, take a photo of the card and number from the back as well as keep the receipt for the purchase. Keeping this information is a good idea in general when purchasing a gift card for someone. If it turns out to be used as part of a scam, the issuing company will want this information as proof of purchase. As soon as possible, contact the gift card company (this is usually the company that issues the card or where it can be redeemed) and report it. Ask for the money back and explain why it was purchased.

The faster the company is contacted, the better the chance that the gift card company may be able to freeze the funds on the card if the scammer hasn’t drained it yet. Each of the companies that are frequently used in scams have information on how to contact them. The FTC has a web page that has information for quite a number of businesses that issue gift cards.

Don’t Forget To Report To The FTC

Finally, report your scam to the FTC using their reporting web page. By collecting information from many victims, the FTC can use that information to identify scams and help reduce it for future potential victims.

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