Mar 03, 2024

In the check-out line buying gift cards? Read on to avoid a scam

Posted Mar 03, 2024 10:30 AM

Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

If you’re in the checkout line with a gift card (or several) in your hand, ask yourself: is the gift card you’re buying for a gift? Or is someone on the phone with you as you’re checking out telling you what to do – like buy a gift card to pay for something and give them the numbers? Gift cards are ONLY for gifts. That means if the gift card isn’t for someone’s birthday, anniversary, or for any other gift giving reason, it’s a scam.

Gift card scammers only want your money. First they’ll call, text, email, or send a social media message. Then comes a made-up story: They’re from the government (pay taxes or a fine), tech support (something’s wrong with your computer – pay to fix it), or you’ve won a prize (but pay for it first.) Other scammers might use AI voice cloning to sound like a family member in trouble. It’s always urgent. They always want you to act fast or something bad will happen. And it’s always a scam.

Think you gave gift card numbers to a scammer? Act fast. Grab your gift card and the gift card receipt. Then,

  1. Report the gift card scam to the gift card company. It doesn’t matter when the scam happened. Use this How To Contact Gift Card Companies list to report it.
  2. Ask for your money back. Some companies are helping stop gift card scams and might give your money back. Always ask.
  3. Tell the FTC at Your report makes a difference and helps protect people in your community from fraud and scams.

Remember: gift cards are ONLY for gifts. If it’s for anything else, like to pay to fix any problem for ANY reason, it’s a scam. 

Visit cards to learn more. Share this information with your friends, family, and community to help stop gift card scams.