In a recent press release, the Federal Trade Commission stated that, in the first nine months of 2021, consumers reported losing $148 million in scams where gift cards were used as the form of payment.  That amount is more than what was reported in all of 2020.

Nearly 40,000 consumers reported using gift cards to pay a scammer and most often, the scammers were impersonating large companies or government agencies.

One new development noted was the emergence of Target gift cards as the most popular choice for scammers in the reports received by the FTC.  Target gift cards accounted for about $35 million in payments, more than twice as much as any other brand of gift card.  The median amount lost when consumers paid with Target gift cards was $2,500, higher than any other brand of card and nearly a third reported losing $5,000 or more.

Scammers also instructed consumers to purchase gift cards – regardless of the brand of card – from a Target store more often than any other location, according to the press release.

Since 2018, both the number of consumers filing reports involving gift cards as payment and the amount they have lost have increased steadily.  The consumers’ median loss when they paid with gift cards increased from $700 to $1.000.

If you are contacted by telephone, text, email, instant message, or any other method by anyone purporting to be from the government, a corporation, or from a family member in trouble,  and that person wants any kind of payment and insists on payment being made with gift cards, IT IS A SCAM !

We can’t think of any exceptions to this rule so DO NOT PAY BY GIFT CARD, EVER!  Gift cards are intended to be gifts, not payment.

If you need assistance with this topic or any other concern, contact information for Seniors vs. Crime is available on our website at: