The Better Business Bureau has released new details on a scam method reported multiple times to local law enforcement officials within the past year.
According to a new BBB study, gift card payments are often used for scams involving government impersonators, tech support fraud, romance scams, fake check scams, prize/sweepstakes scams and online car sales.
The BBB shared details of a typical case in which a woman reported her elderly mother purchased $2,000 Nike gift cards as instructed by scammers who were impersonating the FBI. The woman says only after the gift card numbers were shared with the scammers and used, Nike noticed suspicious activity and stopped purchases and deliveries of their products.
According to the BBB Scam Tracker gift card scam payment cases nearly tripled between 2017 and 2020, with a median loss of $700 in 2020.
Gift cards cannot be tracked easily and do not carry the same legal protections as credit or debit cards, making them an attractive option for scammers. Red flags to know include:
• Government agencies requesting payment. No government agency requests money through gift cards.
•Claims that paying with gift cards is a safe way to make a payment. Providing the numbers for a gift card is like sending cash, and the money is rarely recoverable. Gift card payment requests are a big red flag for a scam.
Victims should immediately notify the issuer of the card as soon as they realize they bought gift cards and provided the numbers to scammers, or have purchased gift cards with no balance on them. There is typically a customer service number on the back of the card.
Send your story to: email@example.com, or call 507-831-3455. Stories will appear in an upcoming edition and in a Thursday website report. By sharing your story, you may prevent others from being scammed.
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