In recent years, gift cards have taken off in popularity. Unfortunately, scammers have a keen interest in gift cards, too – only for them, they are being used to pry money from you as a form of payment in their latest con.
How It Works:
Scams that seek payment by gift cards take many forms, but often carry a common theme. They may assert that you neglected to pay taxes to the IRS and must pay immediately. Or the “utility company” will call to inform you that you have failed to pay your bill and now face an immediate cutoff. To fix an urgent problem on your computer, “tech support” will fix the issue with payment by gift card. Or, a “family member” in distress calls and needs your help immediately to get out of a jam, and begs you to purchase gift cards and to keep it a secret from the rest of your family. The scammer will then direct you to go to a nearby retailer, buy a gift card in the amount you owe, and then ask you to share the numbers and PIN on the back of the card.
What You Should Know:
Once you share those numbers, the scam is over. You will never hear from the caller again, and you won’t see the money you paid for the gift cards again, either.
Gift cards only can be used to purchase products and services. No government entity will accept – let alone ask for – a gift card as a form of payment. Nor will a utility company or any other legitimate business.
What You Should Do:
The second someone asks you to pay a supposed debt by gift card, know it’s a scam and hang up the phone.
Check out this video teamed with Best Buy to produce, to help spread the message on these kinds of scams.
This scam is so old that it is covered with grey hair; however, not all that long ago(5 years), a minister here in NC went from convenience store to convenience store buying up gift cards to pay his "IRS" bill.
The scammer stayed on the phone with him for several hours as the minister bought up $16,000 worth of gift cards, gave him the PINS, and off the money went.
If the preacher was that naive and stupid; I doubt I'd want his guidence.