#1 - THE SET-UP: A scammer calls/texts/emails you with an urgent and convincing story, often pretending to be:
- Someone from a government agency (IRS, Social Security, FBI, ICE, etc.) who threatens legal action or to cut off your benefits unless you pay with gift cards.
- Someone from your power, water, phone, or other utility company who threatens to cut off your service unless you pay with gift cards.
- A technical support person from your computer manufacturer who says they need to fix your computer and needs gift cards as payment.
- Someone from your bank, mortgage company, or landlord who says you owe money and threatens action unless you pay with gift cards.
- Someone from a sweepstakes who says you won a prize but asks you to pay fees or other charges with a gift card.
- Someone who owes you money and sends you a check for way more than expected. They ask you to deposit the check and give them the difference on a gift card.
- A criminal who threatens to harm you &/or your loved one(s) unless you pay with gift cards.
If any of these situations sounds familiar, STOP! DO NOT BUY THE GIFT CARDS!
#2 - THE PURCHASE: Once they have you convinced, a scammer will likely:
- Tell you which gift cards to buy &/or specific dollar amounts.
- Send you to a certain store or ask you to buy cards at several stores so cashiers won't get suspicious.
- Stay on the phone with you while you go to the store and load money onto the card(s).
If this sounds familiar, STOP! DO NOT BUY THE GIFT CARDS!
#3 - THE CLOSE: Once you have purchased the gift cards, a scammer will ALWAYS ask you for the card numbers and PINs so they can get the money immediately. Once that happens, your money is GONE.
So, please be careful out there and report suspected gift card scams at: www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov