ST. LOUIS – It seems so simple, but Better Business Bureau investigator Brian Edwards says more people are becoming scam victims. Recently, through gift cards.
“No legitimate business is going to ask to be paid in gift cards,” said Edwards.
He said there have been a large uptick in cases of gift card scams, roughly a 50 percent increase compared to the first nine months of last year.
“That was a concerning trend we saw, and we wanted to dig deeper into why that was,” said Edwards.
Edwards says scammers have doubled down on gift cards as a method to steal money from consumers, especially online shoppers.
“Maybe you go on Facebook to buy a nice gift for your family member, and you see something that’s for a really good deal and the person says great, happy to give it to you, but I’m going to need Target gift cards as payment for that. That’s kind of the scam we’re seeing the most,” said Edwards.
Scammers will often use aggressive tactics to get their victims to act fast.
“That scammer is going to say I’ve got 10 other offers, and if you don’t do it right now, this is going to fall through. They push and push and needle, and they’re very good at that,” said Edwards.
And once you figure out you’ve been taken, the scammers have already cashed in.
“They have sophisticated networks set up to either turn these into other gift cards or cash them out into valuable items they could then sell,” said Edwards.
Since 2020, the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre have combined to receive more than 190,000 gift card scam reports. It’s cost consumers more than $705 million.
“We want people to be especially aware here at the end of the year as they’re shopping online on social media,” said Edwards.