This article will show you how to spot and avoid gift card scams so that you don’t end up losing your hard-earned money.


Gift card scammers act in different ways. Someone can ask you to pay for an item by loading a gift card and requesting the numbers on the back of the card. If anyone asks you to do this, he or she is trying to scam you.


No serious business will ask you to pay them via a gift card. Anyone that wants you to pay with your gift card is most likely a scammer.


Keep reading to discover the different types of gift card scams and how you can avoid them.


Types of Gift Card Scams

1.   Threats by the IRS

One of the commonest forms of gift card scams involves being threatened by the IRS. A criminal will send you a text or email message or even call you and claim to be an IRS staff. The scammer will then say that you owe unpaid taxes and that they will arrest you if you fail to pay. The scammer will direct you to pay what you owe with a gift card.


Once you buy gift cards, the scammer will usually ask for gift cards from a particular retailer, and he or she will ask you to read the gift card numbers and PINs. This information will be used by scammers to buy things online.


The first thing you need to know is that the IRS will not call, text, or email you to discuss unpaid taxes. The IRS will only send you a letter with a phone number that you should call.


Also, the IRS will not threaten you concerning the taxes you owe.


Furthermore, the IRS will not request that you pay the taxes you owe via a gift card.


2.   Scams Executed Using Bots

Scammers also use bots when trying to steal funds on gift cards. Bots are software applications that carry out automated tasks online.


Scammers can use bots to search online gift card systems for gift cards that have been activated. Immediately the bot finds a gift card that has been activated, the scammer will use the number of the gift card to buy items. The scammer can also sell the information of the gift card on the dark web. When you are trying to use your gift card, you will then discover that the balance has been wiped out.


To avoid this scam, ensure you use your gift card as soon as you receive it. This reduces the chance of your balance being wiped out by bots.


3.   Fraudulent Cashier

In some cases, a store’s cashier may be one of the scammers trying to steal the funds on your gift card. For instance, if you bought a gift card at a department store, the cashier can activate the gift card but may end up giving you a card that has not been activated. The cashier will then keep the gift card that has been activated while you have the one that cannot be used. The cashier then goes ahead to use your activated card to buy things online.


The best way to avoid this type of scam is to pay attention to cashiers while they are checking you out. Ensure they give you your gift cards as soon as they activate them.


4.   Stealing the Gift Card Numbers

This involves using a magstripe reader to scan gift cards and store gift card numbers. The scammer then calls the customer service numbers on the cards and types in the copied gift card numbers. This will allow the scammer to know if someone has bought and activated the gift card and the balance on the card.


The scammer will then use the gift card number to buy items, thereby wiping out the card’s balance.


You can avoid this scam by not buying gift cards that are publicly displayed in retail stores.


Read Also:  Pros and Cons of Gift Cards


Wrapping Up

I hope you’ve learned one or two things on how to spot and avoid gift card scams.


The most secure way of getting gift cards is to buy from stores that you trust. Don’t buy from online auction sites because the cards on such platforms may be fake. If you detect any foul play with the card you want to buy, go for another card.

Categorized in: