Americans lost $148M to gift card scams in the first 9 months of 2021

Gift card scams result in thousands of Americans losing more money than in 2020

Gift card scams make more money for criminalsAmericans already lost more money in the first 9 months than in 2020

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shared worrying news. Americans lost more than 148 million dollars to gift card scams. The record numbers are reported from the first nine months of the year and are significantly higher than the whole of last year. It is stated that at least 40,000 consumers reported scams where gift cards were the chosen form of payment.[1] In most cases, scammers always remain unidentified.

As gift cards are at the top of the holiday gift-giving list, there is a significant danger of being scammed. Often, scams start with phone calls from a well-known business. The caller tells the consumer that there is a security issue, and the person must send a photo of the card to the caller. In this way, the scammer gets all the necessary gift card data, like a number or a code. However, criminals do not need to acquire it physically, so for them, it is easier.

In other cases, the caller could threaten consumers to freeze personal bank accounts. In similar situations, experts remind buyers to stay alert and remember that gift cards are meant to be used to get gifts, not to make any kind of payments. Experts state that for scammers, gift cards are a favorable choice. They are quite easy to obtain, and it is a chance to get quick cash, while transactions are irreversible.[2]

Target became the top pick for scammers and criminals

In most cases, Google Play, Apple, eBay, and Walmart gift cards are the scammer's favorites. However, this year Target gift cards are the most popular choice. With target becoming the most popular destination for criminals, the companies gift cards now represent 35 million dollars of all reported frauds. The company is aware of such crimes but has few ways to stop them.[3]

Target spokesman Brian Harper-Tibaldo stated that gift card scams are a persistent issue, and Target takes these crimes extremely seriously. The new technology is included, and all of the team members are trained to spot a scam. Also, it is shared that the company is collaborating with law enforcement on this matter. Experts applaud such tactics and state that education is key to fighting scammers.

According to FTC data, at least 2,500 dollars was lost when consumers paid with Target gift cards, and nearly a third reported losses of 5,000 dollars or more.[4] With the festive season expected to reach its peak in the remaining weeks, it is possible that fraud activities would only continue. In this case, consumers must be aware of the possible danger and should always report any suspicious activity.

To spot a scam, consumers must stay alert

Experts caution consumers to stay alert and watch out for any suspicious deals. It is highly advised not to trust any caller playing as a government or companies official. They may threaten consumers with unpaid taxes or bill payments, but it is classic social engineering. More importantly, none of the official figures would need payment in gift cards. Additionally, it is always smart to be alert online.

Scammers may use various boots and other cyber threats to probe bank-end IT systems at retailers and other organizations for details on card balances and card numbers. The best tactic is to take all the cautionary steps online and be careful with personal data and gift-card info. Phishing is on the rise right now, so gift cards are found to be used as tricks for users to hand over important data.

Any suspicious email, text, or social media message with the offer to win a large amount of gift card balance should be viewed as suspicious. The consumer may share their banking information with the untrustworthy source, and all the financial data may be put at risk or even sold on dark web platforms.[5] With festivities coming, no one wants to be tangled up in legal issues, so caution is the best approach.

About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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