Gift card scams in the U.S. are continuing to rise—and it could get worse as the holiday season approaches, the Wall Street Journal reported November 19, citing the Federal Trade Commission. At least $74 million was reported stolen in the third quarter of 2019. That’s an increase of $21 million from the same time frame last year.
Part of the reason the scams have increased is because they can be done anonymously. A con artist will usually target a senior or small business, and pretend to be a grandchild, tax collector, or use another alias. They convince the victim to buy them a gift card and then read the number over the phone. Once the transaction is complete, it’s difficult to reverse.
As the holiday season approaches, cybersecurity experts warn consumers to beware. The gift card scams occur year-round, but it might be harder to detect when more gift cards are being purchased in November and December.