Gift cards are the number one form of
payment demanded by scammers. Why? Because gift cards can be redeemed for cash from
anywhere in the world and scammers can remain anonymous while pocketing your
money. Gift cards are almost like cash. When you purchase a gift card, it is
electronically loaded with cash. Anyone with the serial number printed on the
back of the card and the PIN number can redeem it for cash quickly and
anonymously– it doesn’t matter where they are. Once you buy a gift card and give
the serial number to a scammer, your money is gone forever. There are all
kinds of scams that include a demand for payment with gift cards. Some scammers
you are likely to run into include: someone claiming to be from tech support
requiring money to fix your computer or keep your computer files from being
destroyed; someone posing as an Internal Revenue agent threatens to freeze your
bank account if you don’t pay back taxes; posing as law enforcement threatening
arrest if fines are not paid immediately; someone claiming to be a utility company
employee threatening to cut off your electricity or water; someone claiming to
be a military service member selling personal property before being deployed
overseas; someone who threatens to expose your porn site during history if not
paid hush money. These scams all have several things in common: they create a
sense of urgency and often use fear or emotion to cause a victim to act.
Scammers often demand a victim immediately go and buy gift cards.
Scammers even have been known to stay on the phone with their victims and demand
the gift card numbers as soon as they are purchased. Gift card scams are easy
to spot. If anyone asks you to buy gift cards to pay off a bill or fine it is a
scam. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will never ask for
payment by gift card. Remember, gift cards are for gifts not for payments fines or
any other financial transactions.