Gift card scams are happening more often than ever, according to Forbes’ article, “Gift Card Scams Spiked In 2021. Here’s How To Avoid Getting Duped.” According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission, in the first nine months of 2021, nearly 40,000 consumers reported losing $148 million in gift card scams. While no one is exempt from being a potential target, scammers cheat seniors out of approximately $2.9 billion annually, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
We’d all like to think that we’d never fall for these scams, but the truth is they can be very convincing. One example of this type of scam was told in CNET’s article “Gift card scams are growing, and we’re all paying the price.” A 50-year-old mom of four had signed up for Match.com but chose to stop the service. She found a customer service line for Match.com by searching on Google. The man who answered said that he needed to install a program that would allow him to have remote control of her computer. He then directed the mom to log into her bank’s website so he could directly refund her money. He made it look like he had deposited too much money into her bank account and told her the only way to fix it was to buy gift cards with that extra money, send him the gift card numbers, and he would put the cash back into Match’s bank account. The victim was scammed out of $9,000.
We’ve been touched by this type of scam at our office. Every employee received an email that looked like it was from our firm’s lawyer, Matthew Karr. The email mentioned that he was really busy right now but could someone please purchase a couple of gift cards from a certain store and provide him with the card numbers on the back of the cards. Thankfully, we all communicated with each other and confirmed it was a scam.
It seems that the best way to avoid the gift card scam is to remember that no legitimate business or government agency will ever demand payment via gift cards. Here’s an article from the Federal Trade Commission about “How to Avoid a Scam.”