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August 14th, 2023 4:58 pm

Gift card scams start with a call, text, email, or social media message. Scammers will say almost anything to get you to buy gift cards — like Google Play, Apple, or Amazon cards — and hand over the card number and PIN codes.

We regularly get reports where scammers are calling citizens for banking or financial services, jury duty issues, legal matters, or overdue utility bills. Once someone answers the phone, they advise that the matter can be resolved if the person who answered, “just pays a fine!” Payment is ALMOST ALWAYS in the form of a gift card, money order, or form of digital currency like Bitcoin. Or, they may advise that you can transfer them payment via your bank account or an “app.”

Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer. Legitimate organizations will never request payment via gift cards.

These scammers are excellent at what they do and how they do it. They are EXTREMELY convincing. Once they have your money, there is almost no chance that law enforcement will be able to get it back for you.

The best way to avoid these scams is to avoid the conversation to begin with. If you get a call, a text message, or are contacted in any unusual way about winning a lottery (especially one you didn’t play!), a bill you owe, legal fees, jury duty, a hurt loved one, or anything else that requires you having to pay something via gift card… assume it is a scam and end the conversation immediately. Remember, no legitimate company or government agency will ever ask to be paid with a gift card or digital currency. 

Please share this information with your friends, family and neighbors who may not be on social media.