Gift card scams are an increasing problem; retailers and banks can’t do much to help

The latest scam since the pandemic began has been fraudsters targeting people to go out and purchase gift cards.

Millions of Americans fall victim to these tactics and scammers get away with millions of dollars every year.

Many times con artists will call or email, pretending to be an employee from a place like Amazon or Walmart.

Related: Black Friday: Protect yourself from scammers by changing passwords and being careful of good deals




CNN reported a woman who had decided to cancel her Match.com membership. She googled the customer service number and unknowingly found the page of a fraudster posing as the customer service for Match.com.

From there, the scammer was able to get the woman to install software called TeamViewer on her computer which gave him remote control.

He manipulated her bank account to look like he’d “accidentally” deposited $9,000.00 into the account, to which he got her to purchase gift cards to pay back.

While elderly people appear to be the main target, it’s actually more broad than that.

Related: Retailers like Target, Walmart and Best Buy will remain closed for the Thanksgiving holiday




While identity theft is a form of fraud, laws protect people from having their cards used without their authorization. They will usually see their money back in their accounts.

Willingly purchased gift cards are different.

Many people don’t report gift card scams out of embarrassment and knowing they aren’t likely to see that money ever again.




Stores sometimes warn people of scams by placing signage near their gift cards.

The internet has made it much easier over time to take advantage of people. People can commit fraud by buying a microphone and using an app to hide their location.

Scammers also play on emotions and convince people situations are urgent, ultimately flustering them and making it more likely they’ll fall for the fraud.

Retailers have teams devoted to spotting customers trying to scam them, but have a difficult time tracking a person being scammed.

Related: Social Security Scam: Social Security Administration warns of phone scams




To try and help the situation cashiers are trained to ask probing questions when selling large amounts of gift cards.

Another way scammers get gift cards is by taking the numbers off the back of the cards and waiting for them to become activated.

When people realize they’ve been scammed and notify their bank, they’re usually refused reimbursement.

AARP offers support, but many times due to how untraceable the process with gift cards is, there’s nothing anybody can do to fix it.

Related: Black Friday Amazon scam: Woman loses $20,000 to email scammer posing as retailer


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