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Gift Card Scams
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Cecilia (She/Her)
Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor
Posted November 18, 2021
Scams have become a common thing we hear about. Whether it is done over the phone or via email, attempts may happen often. Being cautious is always good to help protect yourself from fraudsters; however, sometimes they can get very creative with the ways they target people and we may be more easily fooled. Therefore, reading up on any new scams will keep you up to date to avoid any losses.
Scams where you’re a winner
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Receiving an email notifying you that you have won a prize sounds amazing. Reading it and thinking how lucky you are to have won is great, until you remember that you did not sign up to win anything or enter a contest. As much as we want it to be true, it is always best to verify the sender of the email before clicking on anything. If you still do not know why you’re getting the email, then the best result would be to delete the entire email. According to the Federal Trade Commission, popular scams include claims that you have won a prize, but first you have to pay fees or other charges in the form of gift cards. When this happens, nothing can be traced back to the scammer. Then, after the “fees” are paid, you receive nothing.  
Scams where you pay in gift cards
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One way to spot a gift card scam is to think of it like this. Gift cards are a gift, so if someone is asking you to pay something in the form of mailing a gift card or sending them the digital code for the gift card, then it is most likely a scam. If you send someone gift cards, they cannot be traced. The scammer will tell you it has to be paid as soon as possible to give you that sense of urgency. They want to make you act without thinking about what you are doing. When you stop to think about what they are asking, you’re more likely to realize that it is not legitimate. If what someone is asking you to do sounds strange, it likely is.
Check and double check
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Be alert, check the senders on your emails, and stop to think before you act. These are some of the best ways to avoid situations where you could get scammed. It is always ok to reach out to the company that claims you have won a prize and ask questions about the contest. Or, if you’re being told you owe someone money, reach out directly to the business and see if it is something you really owe.
Sources:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/gift-card-scams
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