Did you know that cybercriminals commit financial fraud by tricking people into buying gift cards and sending them the gift card information? This popular scam is a preference for cybercriminals because gift cards are an easy substitute for cash, they are easy to purchase, and once the fraud is complete it’s difficult to track down the scammer.
The scams typically start when the cybercriminal contacts you with an urgent request for money. The scammer will imitate an IRS employee, tech support employee, or even a family member, and will tell you to go to a store (Target, Walmart, Walgreens, etc.) to purchase the gift card. After the gift cards are purchased, the cybercriminal will urge you to scratch off the panel on the back of the gift card, take a picture of the gift card information, and send them that picture to complete the financial fraud.
Gift card scams can be easily avoided by following these best practices:
- Buy gift cards online directly from known and trusted sources.
- Proceed with caution on all urgent requests.
- Never send pictures or text messages to anyone that includes gift card information.
If you’re the victim of a gift card scam, immediately contact the issuer of the gift card and report the scam to them. If you contact the issuer quick enough, you may be able to get a refund. Please be aware that some issuers may not provide a refund to the card.