Almost everyone sends or receives gift cards in the world today, which has proven how popular and widely acceptable gift cards have come to be. The benefits people reap from gift cards, in general, have made it possible for scammers to venture into the business. These cyber fraudsters have developed some common tactics to prey on their victims and this article has done justice to some of these tactics, to help you stay safe and away from these cyber attackers who have sworn to make a huge living from the vulnerable gift card users.
What Makes Gift Cards So Attractive To Scammers?
- They’re easy for consumers to purchase, online or in-store
- Most retailers and big brands now offer some form of gift card
- There are fewer protections for gift cards than regular payment cards
- There’s no need for a bank account for payment, the scammer just needs the gift card pin/code
5 Common Gift Card Scam Tactics You Should Know
1. You won a Prize:
This type of fraud exploits the promise of a reward to get the customer to pay a fee through a gift card. The victim will receive unsolicited contact from the fraudster informing them that they have won a big prize but must pay a minor fee to claim their award. It may be anything from a car, a house, or a vacation but there is never any cash reward.
2. Phishing attempts to steal your personal information:
Gift cards can be used to deceive people into divulging their personal information. The receiver is solicited via email, SMS, or social media with the prospect of a huge gift card balance, similar to a traditional phishing assault. To claim it, customers must provide some personal and perhaps financial information, which the fraudster will either sell on the dark web or use for identity theft.
3. In-store card manipulation:
Scammers aren’t limited to the internet. Another common ruse is to go to stores that sell gift cards and take the numbers/secret PINs. They’ll go to great measures to conceal their activities, such as recovering PINs using a sticker. They may wait until the victim goes online to register and load funds onto the card before using it online or manufacturing a duplicate for in-store usage, depending on the card.
4. Using bots to steal your balance:
The bad guys may go right to the source and look for a digital record of your gift card with the issuer. What are their methods for accomplishing this? By probing bank-end IT systems at merchants and other organizations for information on card balances and numbers with automated bots. They can use the card as if they were the official cardholder with this information.
5. A threatening official demand payment:
Someone claiming to be from the Federal/State Inland Revenue Service(FIRS/SIRS), the police, or another government entity may call you. Hang up if this caller tries to scare you into buying gift cards to pay for back taxes or other legal issues. This caller is a scammer. Even if the caller is aware of your secret documents and reads them out loud, this is a hoax. The caller may become angry or insulting, threatening to arrest you or suspend your business or driver’s license. To address tax or other legal difficulties, the FIRS, police, or any other government institution will never accept payment in the form of gift cards.
To avoid these cyber fraudsters, you should take note of these strategies which they usually deploy on their targets. It is important to note that no government agency will ever ask you to make payment with gift cards, so any of such requests you may get is a scam. It is also important to keep your gift card codes secret to avoid divulging them carelessly to criminals.
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