Many people like to give or get gift cards for holidays. Gift cards are becoming a common choice. In fact, they have become a huge global market expected to grow rapidly over the next few years to US$2 trillion by 2027. The popularity of gift cards has gotten the attention of cybercriminals, who have developed an entire industry called the gift card scam. Some scammers use cards to trick you into providing personal and financial info. In other cases, they introduce themselves as government agents and demand gift card payments. This is why we will explain their tricks to stay safe and protect your gift card, whether crypto or regular.
What Are Gift Card Scams
Gift card scams are easy to do and hard to spot. Below is an example that can help you understand gift card scams. Scammers can make fake accounts on social networks using a “ phishing technique” to gain the trust of their targets. Then, they ask for money or personal information, saying it’s for an emergency or a meeting. Not only that, scammers pretend to be tech support. They tell victims their devices have a virus and ask them to pay through a gift card for the assistance. Some scammers prefer crypto gift cards over regular ones. They use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin instead of gift cards. They trick victims into sending them crypto by promising rewards or investments. After they get the crypto, scammers disappear, leaving victims no way to get their refund. So, it is essential to be careful and only do business with trustworthy sources when using cryptocurrencies, as recovering your funds after losing them is impossible.
How Do They Work?
As mentioned, cybercriminals have a variety of tactics at their disposal. They can take the stolen money and convert it into cryptocurrency gift cards. This way, they can cover their tracks and remain anonymous. In general, scammers act like traders on social networks. They promise big profits and opportunities. They try to sell cryptocurrency for less money than it’s worth or say they can double your capital. Typically, the scammer requests victims to order specific gift cards and asks them for their barcodes. He always ensures the victim that these codes are necessary to buy cryptocurrency. After he gets these numbers, he vanishes and leaves the person with worthless cards. As we know, target gift card scams follow a specific pattern. Below is a step-by-step review to understand:
- To start the fraud, scammers create fake accounts or sites to tell people about an investment opportunity with high ROI.
- They promise that people will get a lot of cryptocurrency if they give a small amount. Usually, it’s easy to convince people to invest in small amounts since they afford to lose.
- Scammers generally insist that the invested money should be paid with a gift card.
- The scammer disappears after the victim gives all the gift card details. The victim doesn’t get the crypto they were promised.
How to Identify and Avoid a Gift Card Scam?
Now that you understand how the gift card scam works, it is time to learn how to detect and avoid falling into the scammer’s trap.
Signs of a Gift Card Scam
Always watch out for those who promise big rewards and sell dreams. They often avoid explaining the risks related to keeping you motivated. Also, they often ask for gift cards as a payment method, which is a weird way to do businessMore than that, scammers try to rush you all the time. Be careful of people who urge you to decide quickly. They intend not to give you enough time to verify the offer’s authenticity or the person’s background. Scammers use complex business jargon and unusual transactions to make it harder to follow the process. They think the more you understand, the less chance you can detect their real intention.The last thing is to be aware of gift card email scams, as scammers may request gift card codes via email and use them for fraudulent purposes. This is why it is necessary to refrain from responding or clicking on any link they send, as they can also be hackers.
How to Avoid a Gift Card Scam
Let’s be clear. There are no rosy dreams in business; it’s essential to be careful and check if investment opportunities are genuine. Here are some ways how to avoid gift card scams:
- Be cautious of investment propositions from nowhere, especially if they promise risk-free big profits.
- Don’t pay with gift cards because this is not a legit way to do business.
- Investigate the person or company behind the investment offer, and check their qualifications with regulatory bodies.
- Don’t entrust people with your private data unless you’re sure it’s safe.
- Ensure you understand the risks and rewards of any transactions before giving any cash.
- Be aware of email gift card scam sand use tools or apps to verify the links’ security.
Scammers are changing with the new evolution of crypto in 2023. To stay safe, don’t click on their links via email and keep it rational. Lastly, only invest in platforms you know after researching their legitimacy first. Trust your instincts and stay vigilant.
How do gift card scams work through text messages?
Scammers often send text messages claiming that the recipient has won a giveaway or a prize and needs to claim it by activating a gift card. This is how they can steal personal information and make unauthorized purchases.
Is a popup claiming I won a gift card a scam?
Yes, it is likely a scam. Popups are used to trick people into giving away personal information or downloading malware. Report it and close the window immediately.