Can you get your gift card money back after a scam?

Can you get your gift card money back after a scam?

By Greg Collier

We’ve often said gift cards are the currency of scammers. This is because once scammers get the funds from the card, that money is typically gone forever. Victims usually had little to no recourse once scammers emptied the cards. However, a recent news report claims that better protections are coming for gift card buyers.

There was a time when gift cards were used in just about any scam. A scammer would pose as some business or authority and demand payment in gift cards. The victim would be asked to read the numbers from the cards to the scammer. From there, the scammers would make immediate purchases using the cards, then sell the essentially stolen items.

Now, according to CBS News, companies that issue gift cards are stepping up efforts to combat gift card scams. Large companies are named in this report, such as Amazon, Apple, Target, and Walmart. The report states that companies are now flagging or freezing transactions used with stolen gift cards.

While that may be true, it seems the directions for a victim to get their money back is nothing new. According to the FTC, who was quoted by CBS News, the first thing a victim should do is contact the card’s issuer to notify them of the stolen cards. Then the FTC goes on to state if the scammer has not drained the card yet, the victim may get their money back.

The problem with this procedure is there is a tiny window between the time the card numbers are given to the scammer, and the time the cards are emptied. Unfortunately, some victims don’t even realize they’ve been scammed until days later, if at all. If a victim isn’t calling a card issuer within minutes after being scammed, their money will probably never be recouped.

The best protection against a gift card scam is to recognize it before it happens. Gift cards should only be used as gifts and should only be redeemed at the outlets they’re intended for. They can’t be used to pay police or any other law enforcement agency. They can’t be used for any kind of debt that someone is trying to collect. If someone asks you for gift cards, and they’re not intended as gifts, the odds are you’re talking to a scammer.