The San Marcos Police Department is urging citizens to be aware of gift card scams.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over $74 million has been lost in scams involving gift cards.
Gift cards are not meant for payments, and if someone is asking an individual to put money on a gift card for payment, it’s likely a scam.
Examples of Gift Card Scams: “Internal Revenue Service” back taxes, funds to “grandchildren” who assert they’ve been in an accident, purchasing “tech support” for fake computer problems, and “Social Security” payments to remedy falsified identity-theft.
Criminals can be very persuasive. They often keep victims on the phone to prevent them from getting a second opinion from a trusted friend.
Some even convince victims that they are about to be arrested for unpaid taxes and tell them exactly what cards to buy, usually iTunes, Google Play, Amazon or Steam.
Once a victim reads a gift card number and PIN over the phone — or sends a digital photo of the numbers — a criminal can immediately spend the funds online or sell the data.
Tips to avoid gift card scams:
• Use gift cards only as gifts for people you know — and never for payments
• Legitimate businesses and government agencies will never demand payment in gift cards
• If your religious leader, grandchild or anyone else calls or emails and asks for money, call them back to make sure it’s really them before purchasing anything.
If residents have been scammed, please report the incident to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Be sure to report it to law enforcement and to the gift card company as well.
Even if a scammer is long gone with the proceeds of a crime, reporting helps officials understand what ploys are being used so they can educate people and prevent future losses.