AARP warns of emerging gift card scams

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:10 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Graduation season is right around the corner, and you might be looking for the perfect gift.

An easy present might be a gift card, but now, experts are warning that yours might be compromised before you even take it off the shelf. Experts with AARP are saying you might want to think about grabbing the third or fourth and making sure it doesn’t look like it’s been tampered with.

But that’s not all.

Next time you go to the grocery story and buy a card, and you know there’s money on it, scammers can steal your money once you get home. A whopping 73 million Americans have experienced some sort of gift card fraud. The Federal Trade Commission also reports $233 million in losses just last year.

Fraud prevention experts say if someone contacts you and asks you to use a gift card to pay a utility bill, pay a fee to claim a prize or pay an upfront fee for a service or product, whatever you do, don’t do that.

They’re also saying scammers will hack into your emotions and make you miss the red flags.

“A scammer knows that if they can get the target into a heightened emotional state, that person has a harder time accessing logical thinking,” says Kathy Stokes, Director of Fraud Prevention Programs with AARP. “If you get a communication that immediately makes you anxious worried or excited like hey you won a million dollars in a lottery, that’s a sign.”

While a third of consumers have been targeted by a gift card scam, younger adults are actually the target more often than older adults.

Stokes says these scams are preventable, and you can find help buy contacting the AARP by clicking here.

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