Gift card scammers continue to target residents, don’t be fooled

From the Town of Wake Forest to WSJ30.com

The Wake Forest Police Department is again urging residents to guard against becoming the victim of fraud following more reports of phone scams involving gift cards. Many times it’s hard to tell what is a scam and what isn’t. But whenever someone asks you to pay using a gift card – it’s a scam.

Gift cards are often used as part of several different scams, including IRS, jury duty and grandparent scams. When scammers ask for money or demand that you pay them, they’ll direct you to buy a set of gift cards. These gift cards can be for a range of stores or products, including Target, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. Then, they’ll ask you to give them the gift card number and PIN information from the back of the card. Once they have that information, they can spend your money using the gift cards.

Recently, scammers have been calling residents claiming to be associated with an official government entity, such as the Social Security Administration, a federal law enforcement agency, or a local law enforcement agency. As part of the scam, the caller typically explains why you must purchase a gift card and provide them with the gift card numbers. The scammers will generally ask you to stay on the phone and not tell anyone what is happening. These scammers often know basic public information about the person they are calling, such as their name and address. They can even spoof the number of a legitimate government agency, so your caller ID shows the call coming from that agency. 

Wake Forest Police want residents to know that no government entity would ever contact you by phone and request payment by gift card. Again, whenever someone asks you to pay using a gift card – it’s a scam.

Protect yourself from gift card scams by remembering the following:

  • Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer. 
  • Never share the code on the back of a gift card.
  • Hang up on illegal robocalls.
  • Slow down and ask questions of telemarketers. Legitimate businesses and charities will answer questions and give you time to consider a purchase or donation. Scam callers will pressure you to commit right away.
  • Don’t give personal or financial data, such as your Social Security number or credit card account number, to callers you don’t know. If they say they have the information and just need you to confirm it, that’s a trick.
  • Don’t pay registration or shipping charges to get a supposed free product or prize. Such fees are ploys to get your payment information.

If you believe that you are a victim of this type of crime, report it to the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.

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