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Holiday "grift" exchange

It’s the 4th day of Consumer Protection and ’tis the season of…gift cards. Even in Santa’s workshop, it’s one of the most popular ways to give to family and friends for the holidays. But gift cards also are a favorite way for scammers to steal people’s money. Anyone who demands that you pay them with a gift card, for any reason, is always a scammer. Simply put, no matter what the story is, never pay with a gift card.

Report gift card used in a scam

Back to the fun stuff: Giving gift cards. Here are a few things to keep your season merry and bright:

  • Buy gift cards from sources you know and trust. Think twice about buying gift cards from online auction sites, to avoid buying fake or stolen cards.
  • Inspect gift cards before you buy. A gift card should have all its protective stickers in place. Report the card to the store if anything looks scratched off or damaged.
  • When you buy, save the receipt. Keeping the gift card receipt can be helpful if you run into problems with the card.
  • Treat gift cards like cash. Report a lost or stolen gift card to the card’s issuer immediately. Most card issuers have toll-free numbers you can find online to report a lost or stolen card. Depending on the card issuer, you may even be able to get some money back.

Spot someone who wants you to pay with a gift card? Tell the FTC:

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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.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

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Retired and Ha…
December 09, 2020
Last January we bought two $100 Mastercard giftcards from Walmart. When the kids opened them, they contained nothing but junk paper. The money from the cards was gone. Mastercard said it was a Walmart problem and Walmart said it was a Mastercard problem. Neither returned our followup emails. So we will never use physical gift cards again!
December 09, 2020
also don't grab the card in front incase it's been tampered with
John Skiba
December 10, 2020
I have purchased gift cards and when the person tried to redeem it, I was informed that the results came back as either "INVALID" or "ALREADY USED." When I took the card back with the receipt, (Walmart and my local supermarket) I was informed that I would have to call the card company and report it to them. When I did, they did not believe me and figured I already used the card and was trying to get over on them and I could not get any refund or replacement.
December 17, 2020

In reply to by John Skiba

john i have the same promble as you had. so what did you do?
December 28, 2020
I asked for an app from Google play store. I was told that the app was free but i needed to produce a credit card for age verification. They lied . They took 34 dollars from me without my permission and i don't even know what they charged me for. I didnt even keep the app. I knew that they were dishonest people and wanted nothing from them. How do i file officisial complaint?
FTC Staff
December 28, 2020

In reply to by rolandstyles

You can report that to the FTC at