How to get your money back after you’ve fallen for a gift card scam | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Have you ever encountered someone online or on the phone asking you to buy a gift card to pay them? This is a common scam.

Gift cards are popular around birthdays, holidays and other special occasions, but they may be growing in popularity for more sinister reasons.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) said in a new report that cases of gift card scams have risen by 50 per cent since last year.

From January 2020 until September 2023, the BBB said there had been $690 million in losses in gift card scams.

With the rise of e-gift cards and phone payment systems, it has become easier for fraudsters to trick people into handing over money this way.

But how do you know when you are being scammed? And if it’s too late and you have already sent the gift card, how do you get your money back?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been tracking reports of scams for years; detailed below is the advice they give consumers on what to do if they think they are being scammed.

Gift cards should be exclusively bought to be given as a gift, under a decision you have made yourself and not through anyone else’s request.

Here is everything we know about gift card scams:

How and why do scammers use this method?

The FTC says scammers like the gift card method of stealing money because they can stay anonymous.

Scammers will usually approach you with calls, texts, emails or messages on social media pretending to be someone that they are not.

They can take on many identities, such as a company, the government, a family member or a romantic interest, to name a few.

Their messages are usually urgent, and they are in need of money, so they will ask for your help by buying a gift card.

Usually, they will ask you to send the numbers on the back of the card through a photo or by typing them out, the FTC says.

Scammers can be particularly good with their words, and manipulate the conversation to convince you or someone else that the money they need via a gift card is urgent.

Sometimes, the scammer will even ask to stay on the phone with you while you purchase a gift card to make sure you do it.

Types of scammers

The fraudsters often give good reasons while impersonating, saying they are in serious trouble and need the money through “electronic vouchers” so no one can track their activity, the FTC says.

Scammers sometimes may say they are from tech support and ask for remote access to your computer and will ask you to pay them to get it fixed.

Another scenario may be that you have won a prize but they will ask you to pay fees for the prize with a gift card. Yet you may have never even entered a prize in the first place.

Or they may say they are from your utility company, the IRS or other debt collectors and will threaten to shut off their service unless you pay immediately.

Dating websites are rife with scammers, who will trick you into a scenario where they say they need you to buy a gift card to send them money or as a gift.

Similarly, scammers can tug at heartstrings by pretending to be a friend or family member who seriously needs help but can’t be tracked as they say they are in trouble, need a ransom or are in danger of being arrested or deported. If you don’t recognise the contact or social media account, you should not interact with them, despite who they say they are.

Scammers may pretend to be a company that sent you a check for way more than you were supposed to receive by accident and ask you to send back the difference on a gift card. However, the check will usually be fake.

Other common scenarios are ones when scammers pretend to be a company who are offering a special deal, such as giving an overwhelmingly good price on a product as long as they paid in gift vouchers.

The scammer may pretend to be employed by Target, for example, and ask for gift voucher pins from Target, but instead of paying for a product, you would just be feeding the gift voucher details to them.

The most popular brands that are requested are usually eBay, Amazon, Google Play, Apple and large supermarket chains.

How to get your money back

Don’t panic. Some gift card companies are sometimes able to get your money back.

Report the scam to the gift card company. Send them the details on your receipt or a copy of the numbers on your gift card.

If the gift card company is able to freeze the card or put the money in escrow before it is used by the scammer, some gift card companies will refund your money.

Many large companies have differing systems in place to help you get your money back to you. The FTC has some of the major brand contacts on its web page.

Timing is key; the longer you wait to redeem your money after you think you have been, the less likely you will get your money back.

Key things to remember

No real business or government agency will ever tell you to purchase a gift card and share the details to pay them.

Always keep a copy of your gift card receipt.

Report the scam to the company as soon as you think your money has been fraudulently taken from you.

Tell the FTC at to help them keep track of online scammers.

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National Cyber Security