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Avoid Scams this Holiday Season!

Who does not love gift cards for the holiday season? But, they also can be an easy scam targeting those who are not careful or unsuspecting.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, "No real business or government agency will ever tell you to buy a gift card to pay them."

When you do purchase a gift card, save the receipt and make a copy of the gift card so you can easily report any fraud.

These scams start out with someone reaching out to you and asking you to make a purchase. Here's how they work according to the FTC:

  1. Scammers will say it’s urgent. They will say to pay them right away or something terrible will happen. They don’t want you to have time to think about what they’re saying or talk to someone you trust. Slow down. Don’t pay. It’s a scam.

  2. Scammers will tell you which gift card to buy (and where). They might say to put money on an eBay, Google Play, Target, or Apple gift card. They might send you to a specific store — often Walmart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens. Sometimes they’ll tell you to buy cards at several stores, so cashiers won’t get suspicious. The scammer also might stay on the phone with you while you go to the store and load money onto the card. If this happens to you, hang up. It’s a scam.

  3. Scammers will ask you for the gift card number and PIN. The card number and PIN on the back of the card let the scammer get the money you loaded onto the card — even if you still have the card itself. Slow down. Don’t give them those numbers or send them a photo of the card. It’s a scam.

And scammers will take on various aliases to try to get you to comply. Here are some common ones:

  • Governmental Representative

  • Tech Support

  • Friend or family member with an emergency

  • Utility company

  • Dating website

  • Cell phone provider

  • Bank Representative

Stay on the lookout for new scams and new stories that might sound realistic and tempt you to make a financial decision that is out of the ordinary. If you do happen to fall prey to a scam, here's what the FTC advises:

  • Report the gift card scam to the gift card company right away. No matter how long ago the scam happened, report it. Use the How To Contact Gift Card Companies list below.

  • Ask for your money back. Some companies are helping stop gift card scams and might give your money back. It’s worth asking.

  • Tell the FTC at Every report makes a difference.


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