You get a phone call that places you into an immediate panic.  It's the IRS, or maybe it's an "attorney for a family member" or your online girlfriend/boyfriend, and they need your help. All of which can be easily taken care of by dropping some money on a gift card. WRONG! It's a scam.

Reports from an enraged Vestal Best Buy Employee of this scam just being carried out on an older person came to me just last week. Apparently they were frightened and wanted to help a "family member that was in jail and needed a gift card to pay the attorney". Targeting the elderly is awful, and once that person puts money on a gift card and shares the 16-digit code on the back with the "attorney", the money is gone, and it’s almost impossible to get back.

This scam can be done with any gift card,  iTunes or any various retailers, including Best Buy gift cards. If you receive a call demanding payment via ANY gift card, do not buy the gift cards. Instead, call your local police department and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.

Here's why, Gift cards can only be used to buy stuff from the store they are from.  Gift cards are not a way of sending money. To turn that into cash wouldn't be impossible, but the person receiving the card would have to spend the money on the card and then sell the products they purchased independently. See, you're thinking, well buy the stuff then return it and get the cash. Nope. Most stores don't like losing income, if you bought stuff then returned it, that cash would be marked "Gift Card Currency"  and would be refunded right back onto another gift card.

Never hand off the numbers on any gift card to someone you don’t know. These scammers will either spend the balance or sell the numbers for clean cash immediately.

Here's an example of a real time scam from an employee named Marysa English, at a Best Best Location:


“She walked into the store and said she needed four $1,000 gift cards,”   “I went over to talk to her, and she told me her granddaughter called to say she was in jail and needed the gift cards.”

Marysa explained that it was a scam, because gift cards wouldn’t help the woman’s granddaughter if she really were in trouble.

“I told her we saw a similar incident about two weeks ago,” “That’s when it clicked for her. I advised her to call police, which she did.”

Be aware of this funny business and help your elders understand the situation!


[Via: Best Buy]