Scammers are always trying to come up with new and creative ways to steal your hard-earned money! One of the more common methods these days is to talk well-meaning folks into purchasing gift cards and then reading them the numbers over the phone, or texting them a photograph. The scammers then sell the gift card numbers or purchase expensive things that they can turn around and sell for cash.
Here are a few important things to remember so that you don’t fall victim to a gift card scam.
- First and foremost, if you are being asked to buy a gift card to pay someone, STOP! It’s a scam.
- Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment for anything by gift card is trying to scam you.
- If someone is pressuring you to purchase gift cards, hang up the phone. No legitimate business or agency will ever ask you to pay your bill with gift cards.
- One common scam is a recording claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. They often threaten that the police have a warrant for your arrest. This is never true. The Canada Revenue Agency will NEVER ask for gift cards, and they don’t call ahead to let you know the police are on their way. Hang up the phone immediately when you hear one of these recordings.
- On that note, the police will NEVER ask you to buy a gift card to pay a fine.
- Another common scam is for someone to call claiming to be from Microsoft and telling you that they can see a virus on your computer. They may provide personal details about you that make it seem like they can see your computer, like your address or age. This is a scam. They cannot see your computer. They may try to get you to purchase gift cards to pay for them to fix your computer. They may also try to gain access to your computer remotely. Hang up the phone, even if they seem to know things about you.
- Sometimes scammers claim to be from the hydro or gas company. They threaten that your heat or electricity will be cut off if you don’t pay a bill, and they ask for you to purchase gift cards to pay it. Utility companies will NEVER ask you to pay your bill with gift cards.
- The fraudster may claim that you have won a large prize, but first you need to pay some sort of fee using gift cards. Remember, no honest business or agency will ever make you pay with a gift card. And ask yourself, did you even enter a contest?
- There has also been a drastic increase in emergency-grandparent scams. Someone calls you claiming to be one of your grandchildren. If the voice doesn’t sound quite right, they will say they have a cold or COVID. They will claim to be in some sort of trouble and ask you to purchase gift cards, and sometimes offer to send a taxi to pick you up. They will usually tell you NOT to tell anyone. This is a scam – hang up the phone immediately.
What if you’ve already purchased the gift card before you realize it’s a scam?
- First of all, give yourself a big pat on the back for catching on – these scammers are excellent at convincing honest people to believe their scams. You may be able to fix it.
- Do not send the scammers any photos of the gift cards or their PIN numbers.
- Do not read them the numbers over the phone.
- Immediately block their number if you can. If that is not possible, do not answer the phone. Do not be intimidated by angry messages on your voicemail. Remember, they are criminals.
- If you have given them the gift card number and PIN number, make sure to keep the card and receipt. Contact your local police as soon as possible to alert them to the scam. As well, report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
- Reach out to a trusted family member or friend. Even if you are embarrassed about falling for a scam, it’s much better to have some support, especially if the fraudsters keep trying to contact you.
- Visit your local Kindred branch or call our Member Contact Centre at 1.888.672.6728 for advice and support.
Protect yourself by keeping up with the latest fraud alerts on our website and learning how to spot a scam!