OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Better Business Bureau is warning against gift card scams. A new study found that over $245 million was lost in these scams since 2017.
"Average loss is about $800 but I have personally talked to victims who have lost $15,000 this way," said Steve Baker, author of the study and international investigation specialist for the BBB.
Scammers will ask people to visit stores, purchase gift cards and either read them the numbers or send a photo of the card. They will then cash them out.
Gift cards are popular among scammers because they are not as protected as credit and debit cards which makes them easier to track. It's also very hard to cancel the transaction after the scammer has the card information.
Baker says scammers will use this method of payment in almost every type of scam.
Margaret Wescott fell victim and lost about $4,000. An email claiming she made an Amazon purchase triggered the scam.
"It had number on there to call if it was not your order so I called the number and then they acted like they were from Amazon and they needed to have me buy a gift card and they would reimburse my bank account. But they never did ask me for my bank account number."
Baker says if someone asks you to pay with a gift card over the phone, it's almost certainly a scam.
"No government agency takes gift cards. I’m aware of no legitimate business that takes gift cards. So even if you don’t understand that it’s a scam, the fact that someone's asking you to give a gift card number is extremely strong proof you’re dealing with a scammer," Baker said.
If you did fall victim to any type of scam you can report it to the Better Business Bureau.