Online sellers asking for “gift card only” payment probably trying to scam you, BBB warns

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With the holidays just days away its time to be weary of scammers stealing money via gift cards. This time of year is a very fertile ground for this type of crime according to the Better Business Bureau.

The estimates are 40 percent of all cyber crimes that occurs in a year, happens in October, November and December.

The “gift card” scam comes in many forms. Someone might call claiming to be the IRS to collect back taxes of fines or a utility company, telling you to pay your bill by gift card. 

“They’ll want you to send the payment in the form of a pre-paid card, and the reason they do the pre-paid gard like the green-dot cards and those sort of things is because once the individual the criminal has the numbers on the card they can use that card and its impossible for you to recover,” said cyber crime expert and Director of of Special Programs at the Center for Applied Cyber Education, Wayne Willcox.

While the scam may present in different ways they all have one thing in common: the urgent need for you to send money. Scammers will sometimes ask for money to be wired, but more than likely they’re asking consumers to load up the gift card with money and then provide them with the number or pin.

“That’s why we always recommend if you are going to make a transaction you be very very weary who wants it paid by a pre-paid card or some sort of you know financial transaction occurring over the internet,” said Willcox. “Something that’s absolutely out of the norm of you using a credit card,” he advised.

If you or someone you know falls victim to a gift card scam you should first contact the company that issued the gift card right away because often times if you act quickly enough, the company may be able to get the stolen money back. If you still can’t find a solution you can report it the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. 

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