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This holiday season (and year-round), gift cards are on scammers’ wish lists. Scammers always have a reason for you to pay them immediately with a gift card. And they often tell you which card to buy and which store to visit. That’s why the FTC is launching a new Stop Gift Card Scams campaign to work with stores and law enforcement to fight these scams. And it’s also why the FTC has taken another look at reporting data to see what’s happening lately.

At ftc.gov/StopGiftCardScams, you can find materials to help people avoid gift card scams. If you’re a retailer (or even if you visit one), you can download, print, and share these materials in your store and community. You’ll find a display rack sign, cashier infographic card, bookmark, and a sticker. Stop Gift Card Scams is also available in Spanish. In fact, the FTC is working with our friends at the U.S. Department of Justice and in local law enforcement to help get the word out nationwide.

This is pressing because the FTC’s data show that, nationwide, gift cards are a top way that people report paying most scammers. People tell the FTC that, since 2018, they’ve paid almost $245 million to scammers, with a median loss of $840. Just today, the FTC released an updated Data Spotlight with some interesting new developments:

  • Reports suggest eBay is scammers’ current gift card brand of choice. It was Google Play and iTunes, but eBay has claimed the uncoveted top spot.

  • People most often report using gift cards to pay scammers pretending to be the government, a business, tech support, or a friend or family member in trouble.

  • People report that scammers tell them to buy gift cards at Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens. And once they have you there, they’ll keep you on the phone as you pay for the gift cards.

Which brings us full circle back to the Stop Gift Card Scams campaign. Read lots more in the Spotlight itself, and find out more about avoiding gift card scams at ftc.gov/giftcards. And if anyone, no matter who it is, tells you to pay with a gift card, that’s a scam. Stop, don’t pay, and then tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

9 Comments


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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.
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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Gramma
December 21, 2020
And the people who go on places where widows and widowers are and then getting acquainted and scamming.
news@
December 28, 2020
Have you ever stopped to look at how tiny the warning messages at the gift card display? Seniors, can't read them, let alone anyone else. Wal-Mart is a good example of this.
bfritts
December 21, 2020
On Dec. 3, 2020, I purchased $500 of eBay gift cards at a local Publix store. Within an hour, I found out there were no balances on $400 of them. I was shocked and immediately went back to the store to no avail! Only one $100 gift card was good! I have attempted to contact eBay, again to no avail! This $400 was a major loss to me as I live on a very small SS!
gator
December 22, 2020
i had girl scratch off the last four digits on my 2 ebay gift cards and by the time i checked it was to late all money on both cards were gone.I thought they needed the whole number but i guess not.
Jxx
December 22, 2020
Hi, I am normally quite astute in general circumstances, but recently while applying for funding I was offered loans in the thousands for rent deposit for premises the three companies all had the same contract, and wanted Amazon gift cards total £50 transfer fees, etc, I sent copies to Google and Facebook as they intimate a business with both, I believe I sent you a copy earlier, so I said yes to all, they all gave details to contact once I bought card, I passed that all on too, these email based loan companies should be more circumspect in giving out details to other people, I will be in touch with all the loan / funding companies I contacted, telling them I gave their details to Google Facebook and police, I wanted the building so much, I lost the first £50 but am doing my bit to help it not happen to someone else. Jxx
Concerned for others
December 24, 2020
It would be a great idea if businesses, e.g., EBay, put on their gift card web page a warning; i.e., "If someone is telling you to purchase a gift card to use for payment ....". Including a link to your site would also be good. These businesses need to take some responsibility and not just think about the money side of it.
RickyBobby
December 28, 2020
FB name Natasha Burke. Posted about working for U.S Bank and doing a giveaway. Basically $100 gift card to turn into $1200. Once enough people commented on it and inboxed her, she deleted the post. She sent me her i.d card to gain my trust.
Lee
January 01, 2021
Some stole 70dollars from my credit card January 1st 2021
Poor-in-oklahoma
January 04, 2021
We were just scammed by a lady on Facebook marketplace selling a 2003 pathfinder for $800.00 through EBay Motors paying with EBay $200. Dollar gift cards totaling$800. For purchase of vehicle didn't send the money . Need to find out how I can get my money back off the cards to buy a vehicle please anyone no how to get my money back thanks