Scammers Target Gift Cards

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

 
For scammers, the season of holiday giving is the season of taking, and Tennesseans’ hard-earned money again tops scammers’ wish lists. Unfortunately, Tennessee consumers are falling for scammers’ ploys when it comes to gift card swindles in increasing numbers. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network reports Tennesseans lost nearly $1 million – over $943,000 – through prepaid gift card scams in 2018, which is a 44 % increase compared to 2017 when scammers stole $653,709 from consumers.
 
While family, friends, and co-workers may use gift (or ‘reload’) cards to express holiday appreciation, scammers want the cards’ PIN numbers for fast cash, and they’re willing to do and say anything to get those numbers from consumers.
 
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Division of Consumer Affairs is warning consumers of a new and increasingly common scam where callers pretending to represent a federal or state agency contact consumers about a fictitious debt and demand payment in the form of a prepaid gift card or risk punishment. Consumers should remember that no government agency will ever demand payment in the form of a reloadable gift card.
 
Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak said; “Gift card scams are growing as thieves learn they can take advantage of unsuspecting and vulnerable consumers. I urge consumers to educate themselves in order to fight back against these unscrupulous individuals. If someone calls you demanding payment via a gift card, I urge you to hang up and report the incident to your local law enforcement authorities.”  
 
To help consumers avoid prepaid gift card and other holiday scams, commerce and insurance offers the numerous tips.  For more information on being a safer consumer, check this story in the local news section
 
If you’ve been the victim of a gift card or other holiday scam, report it to the Federal Ttade Commission.
 
For more information on being a savvy consumer, visit tn.gov/consumer. You can also check what scams are being reported in your area, the state, and across the country by accessing the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.