Since 2018, gift cards have been the most frequently reported payment method for fraud, with scammers most frequently asking for Google Play, Apple, eBay, and Walmart cards. However, this year, Target gift cards are scammers’ No. 1 choice.
Most gift card scams start with a phone call from someone impersonating a government agency such as the Social Security Administration, or a business.
The caller may threaten to freeze your bank account and tell you that you need to buy gift cards to avoid arrest or to keep access to your money, said Cristina Miranda, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education.
They’ll have you stay on the phone as you go to the store to buy gift cards to, they contend, solve the “problem,” Miranda said. You’ll be asked to provide the numbers on the back of the card you purchase.
If you’re going to a store to buy gift cards because someone on the phone told you to, stop. Anyone who tells you to pay with a gift card, is a scammer. The government and legitimate businesses won’t demand you pay with a gift card.
Visit ftc.gov/giftcards for more information on gift card scams.