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Keep Imposter Scammers Off Your Gift-Giving List

Gift cards are often a fun and easy gift to give during the holidays. They also happen to be a favorite target for scammers.

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Community Content Team
Published Dec 7, 2018 in: Security, Scams & Fraud

Read time: 2 minutes

What Is A Gift Card Imposter Scam?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), gift card and reload gift cards have become the number one form of payment for imposter scams. Imposter scammers impersonate a friend or family member in urgent trouble or pose as a familiar business or legitimate government agency by email or phone. Scammers persuade a victim to follow instructions and send money or gift cards with the belief they are helping a friend or family member, fixing a problem, or keeping themselves out of trouble.

Why Gift Cards?

Gift cards are the payment method of choice because scammers can easily access the cash and keep their identity hidden, and the transactions are rarely reversed. There are tell-tale signs to help you identify this type of scam. Victims are told to purchase the gift cards at big stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and even iTunes.

The scammers make sure to explain that purchasing the gift cards then scratching off the strip on the back and emailing or calling them back with the gift card numbers is the fastest, best way to resolve the made up crisis as quickly as possible.

What's the Best Response?

Whatever approach the scammers use, the most important takeaway is that if someone contacts you urgently demanding payment for something in gift cards, it's likely a scam. Here are some things you can do if you think you have been contacted by a scammer:

  1. Contacted by Phone: Hang up and block the caller. You can also file a complaint with the FTC.
  2. Contacted by Email: Never respond to a suspicious email to find out if it's authentic. Mark the email as spam and block the sender. The FTC recommends forwarding phishing emails to and to the organization impersonated in the email.
  3. Contacted on Behalf of Someone You Know: If you're concerned someone you know may genuinely be in trouble, check on them with a call or text.
  4. Contacted on Behalf of a Business or Professional Contact: Follow up with your contact using a trusted phone number or email address to find out if they're truly attempting to contact you.

Learn more about security and privacy to get more information on how you can keep your accounts at BECU secure and do more to protect yourself online.

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Community Content Team

BECU's community content team writes about personal finance topics like budgeting, saving and building credit to help you reach your financial health goals.