A new data analysis by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that gift cards continue to be the most common form of payment when Americans report losing money to most scammers.
Since 2018, the data analysis shows American consumers have reported spending nearly $245 million on gift cards that they used to pay scammers for a wide variety of scams. Scammers most likely to rely on gift cards as a payment method were government imposters, family imposters, business imposters, and tech support scams.
In these scams, the scammers convince consumers that they must pay using gift cards. The reasons scammers present vary, but they always tell you that you must go to a retail outlet, purchase physical gift cards, and then provide the PIN numbers on the cards to the scammer. Reports suggest scammers favor certain brands of gift cards, such as, eBay or Amazon, however, their brand preferences change over time.
Because of the rapid increase in scams, the FTC has started a new campaign to partner with retailers around the country to help prevent consumers avoid a gift card payment scam.
The FTC has created warning signs that retailers can place directly at the point of sale for gift cards—both on the racks where they are displayed and at cash registers. The signs are designed to stop consumers who may be ready to buy gift cards to pay a scammer, raising key questions and reminding them that “gift cards are for gifts, not payments.
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- How many students have purchased gift cards and how did they use these cards? For personal use? For gifts? For scammers?
- What can you do to protect yourself and your family against gift card scams?
- What will you do if someone calls you from tech support and asks you to pay them with a gift card to fix your computer?
- Why gift cards continue to be the most common form of payment for most scammers?
- Why do so many Americans get scammed by imposters?
- What can consumers do to avoid such scams?
- Discuss the statement, “Gift cards are for gifts, not payments”.