Common Gift Card Scams and What to Do



Scammers tell different stories to get you to buy gift cards so they can steal your money.

Here are some common gift card scams:

  • Scammers say they’re from the government. They say they’re from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or even the FTC. They say you have to pay taxes or a fine. But government agencies won’t contact you to demand immediate payment, and they never demand payment by gift card. It’s a scam.

  • Scammers say they’re from tech support. They say they’re from Microsoft or Apple and there’s something wrong with your computer. They ask for remote access and say to pay them to get it fixed. Don’t give them access to your computer. It’s a scam.
  • Scammers say they’re a friend or family member with an emergency. If the scammer uses voice cloning, they may even sound just like your loved one. They ask you to send money right away — but not tell anyone. It’s a scam. If you’re worried, contact the friend or relative to check that everything is all right.
  • Scammers say you’ve won a prize. But first, they tell you to pay fees or other charges with a gift card. It’s a scam. No honest business or agency will ever make you buy a gift card to pay them for a prize. And did you even enter to win that prize?
  • Scammers say they’re from your utility company. They threaten to cut off your service if you don’t pay immediately. But utility companies don’t work that way. It’s a scam.
  • Scammers ask for money after they chat you up on a dating website. Romance scammers will make up any story to trick you into buying a gift card to send them money. Slow down. Never send money or gifts to anyone you haven’t met in person — even if they send you money first.
  • Scammers send a check for way more than you expected. They tell you to deposit the check and give them the difference on a gift card. Don’t do it. It’s a scam. That check will be fake, and you will be out all that money.


What To Do If You Gave a Gift Card to a Scammer

If you bought a gift card and gave someone the numbers off the back of the card, that’s a scam. Use your gift card and gift card store receipt for these next steps:

  • Report the gift card scam to the gift card company right away. No matter how long ago the scam happened, report it.
  • Ask for your money back. Some companies are helping stop gift card scams and might give your money back. It’s worth asking.
  • Tell the FTC at Every report makes a difference.


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