WASHINGTON—Nearly one in three adults say they or someone they know has been asked to purchase a gift card to pay a bill or some other obligation, according to the Gift Card Payment Scams report released by the AARP Fraud Watch Network. The research is a component of a three-year effort launched today to raise awareness around gift card use as payment in scams, a common method employed by criminals to steal money.
“With the number of reported scams on the rise, criminals are increasingly turning to gift cards as an untraceable way to take money as a part of their schemes,” said Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs at AARP. “Unfortunately, once a person gives a criminal the gift card number and PIN, the money is virtually impossible to recover. Our three-year initiative will let consumers know that it is never legitimate when someone asks you to pay for some obligation with a gift card.”
The report found an alarming one-in-10 respondents acknowledge they bought a gift card after being asked by someone to pay a bill, another financial obligation or a fee to win a prize.
“There are no two ways about it, asking to be paid by gift card is a scam 100 percent of the time,” said Stokes. “Yet, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults don’t know or are unsure whether or not payment by gift card equals a scam.”