Gift cards are a great convenience and very popular to give as a gift. They’re also a popular way for scammers to steal money from you. That’s because gift cards are like cash: if you buy a gift card and someone uses it, you likely cannot get your money back – even if you were scammed into giving it. Gift cards are for gifts, NOT payment. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer. Many different kinds of imposters ask you to pay with gift cards. Someone might call you and claim to be from the IRS, collecting back taxes or fines. The caller might say he’s from tech support, asking for money to fix your computer. The caller might even say she’s a family member with an emergency, or the caller could be selling you something in exchange for the gift card payment.
All of these cases have one thing in common – an urgent need for you to send money right away. They instruct you to buy a popular gift card, and then demand you give them the gift card number and the PIN associated with it. Once those numbers are given the caller can use the gift card and immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once they’ve done that, the scammers – and your money – are gone without a trace.
Do not allow yourself to be caught up in a scam. If something seems wrong, contact your financial institution or your credit card company BEFORE you make the transaction. There is little that can be done once the information has been given to the scammers.