If you’ve been asked to pay for something with a gift card, please note this is a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission has received many reports of people saying they’ve been asked to pay for an item with a gift card. The scenario generally involves callers claiming to be from a Tech Support company, the IRS, a so-called family member or a friend-of-a-friend.  The caller demands the gift card numbers and PIN.

These scammers are very good at convincing people there really is an emergency, so lots of people have made the trip to the Walmart, Target, CVS to buy gift cards or they use their iTunes card. These cards are like giving cash – and nearly untraceable. Since gift card sales are now a year-round business and with the growth of online shopping, gift card scams are on the rise.

Remember that gift cards are for gifts, not payments. If you’ve lost money to someone who might be a scammer, tell the company who issued the card. Let them know their card was used in a scam. If you act quickly enough, they might be able to get your money back. But – either way – it’s important that they know what happened to you.

Also, if you are a victim of any scam, contact the FTC at their complaint assistant website. The FTC notes that complaints from consumers help them detect patterns of fraud and abuse.

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