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Maybe someone said you’ve won the lottery, a prize or sweepstakes. Or they claim to be from the government and tell you there’s a problem with your Social Security number. And, to collect your winnings or solve your problem, you have to pay with gift cards. But here’s the thing: anyone who insists that you pay by gift card is always a scammer.

Learn more by watching this video about how to avoid gift card scams and how to report them.

Also, read more about paying scammers with gift cards to be sure you know how to avoid traps.

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, tell the company that issued the card right away. When you contact the company, tell them the gift card was used in a scam. And then report it to the FTC. Remember to keep the gift card itself and the gift card receipt, and, have them available when you contact the company and the FTC.

To stay up to date on scams that could affect your community, sign up for the FTC’s Consumer Alerts.


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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September 11, 2020
One step worse! I received an email from my aunt (using her legitimate email address) saying she was out of town and forgot it was her nephew's birthday. She asked me to buy a $300.00 gift card for him. I, of course, said "Sure". But, when I asked her where to send it she told me not to. She told me to scratch off the code # at the back of the card and email it to her. It was then that I caught on that this was NOT my aunt. The emailed instructions were not signed in the way she usually signs her emails to me. So, I played along. Pretended I purchased the gift card and then they gave me a different email address to send the "code" to. I turned them in to the authorities. I also notified my aunt that an ID thief had hijacked her email address and to contact her ISP!
September 13, 2020
Initial contact was simply a comment to an Insta post. A well-known sportsperson's Telegram contact details - available in more than one place - appear to have been stolen and used. After 3 days of occasional messaging using the above, the tone suddenly changed and I was asked to go out and get an iTunes or Steam card for [this person's] daughter's phone game upgrade. I did some research on Google and discovered previous reports about such scams. I responded accordingly and have (thankfully) heard nothing since.
September 13, 2020
How does somebody get your gift card off of your phone
scam patrol
September 21, 2020

In reply to by Wawest

When a person scratches off the back of the gift card, usually reads back the numbers or takes a picture of it to send to the scammer. At that point the money is usually gone from the card.
September 22, 2020
A friend of a family member, said got a Grant 24 hrs after you pay for processing. Supposed to be a Fed Grant. I was to get gift cards and he would come back and tell me didn't have any money on it. So I was to get another card. They have gotten into my phone and taken over personal chats and deleted things. I went to pay on PayPal and they got my Debit card. They have my SSI# I called and had a freeze put on that @ Credit Check Company. They was filing out Credit Card Apps; I would get the letters and call them know it wasn't me.. I have every Card every receipt, every phone #.. I have it all still on my Phone. I can still have one lady come up. Cause she was trying to pull PCH SweepStake winner thing Grace is her name, working with someone new.. God Bless someone needs to catch them. Kroger has a lot, the lady said. Sad it can be like Gambling... .
I m heartbroken
September 17, 2021
Yes and ive got almost every gift cards I have sent and the recepts for them I want to let Brantley k. Gilbert kno about all this too I have lost everything I owned for this now