Over the past few years we have seen a large increase in scams where a person on the phone demands payment in the form of Gift Cards. No matter who they say they are with, if they request that payment be made in the form of gift cards, they are a scammer. PERIOD, End of Story.

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, tell the company that issued the card right away. When you contact the company, tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Ask them if they can refund your money. If you act quickly enough, the company might be able to get your money back. Also, tell the store where you bought the gift card as soon as possible. 

Jennifer Leach, the Federal Trade Commission’s Assistant Director, says:
“So here’s the most important thing for you to know: anyone who demands payment by gift card is always, always, always a scammer.”

The FTC states that the total “reported” losses to gift card scams was $20 million in 2015, increasing in 2016 to $27 million, and in Sept of 2018 it had already exceeded $53 million. This trend upward is alarming, especially when you consider this represents only the reported losses.

They request that anyone who has been a victim of these scams should file a report at FTC.gov/giftcards or call 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC Complaint Assistant is very easy to use, and thorough in gathering the facts about the scam.

If the cards are the re-loadable kind (most are), they should NEVER be used again. The scammer will have the ability to drain any funds added to it. Do not throw them away or shred them, as you will need information on them to report your loss correctly.

After being scammed in this way, the sad truth is that the scammer will keep calling back making more demands. Many report repeated call backs from scammers, often ten or more calls per day.

Please share this information with your friends, family and neighbors. St Augustine is targeted heavily by this, and all sorts of other scams, and we need to ensure that everyone is informed.

The FTC has an article titled “Paying Scammer with Gift Cards” and they featured the video to the right in that article.

The Tag Line is “Gift Cards are for GIFTS, not for Payments!”

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