Gift cards making money for scammers

Don’t get caught out with the latest scam

Watch out! There’s a growing trend in scams recently where scammers con people into paying for something using gift cards. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Apple’s iTunes gift card is the most recent.

The amount lost by 1236 victims up to September this year is almost $540,000, up from $480,000 for the 2015-2016 financial year.

“If someone asks you to pay for anything using an iTunes gift card, it is a scam. There are never any circumstances where a legitimate business or government department will ask for payment this way,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

According to the ACCC the scams using Apple’s gift card include scammers claiming to be ATO staff, threatening victims with tax evasion unless they pay a fine in gift cards. Small business owners are just as vulnerable as the rest of the population.

It may seem like a difficult scam to fall for, but claims of debt and threats of police or government action are effective levers to scare people into immediate, and expensive, action.

Scammers aren’t just asking for one or two gift cards. Some victims have been directed to purchase thousands of dollars of gift cards.

“The scammers are very persistent once they have a victim hooked and will, for example, keep their victim on the phone while they’re in a store buying the gift cards. Once a victim has bought the card, the scammer will get them to quickly read the serial number on the back—it’s this information they use to then on-sell the gift card,” Ms Rickard said.

Remember to keep business passwords such as banking, accounts and computer passwords in a safe location, never share those details with anyone you do not trust with your business, and don’t reply to suspicious emails or entertain suspicious phone calls.

Anyone target by scammers can contact www.scamwatch.gov.au or check  @scamwatch_gov on Twitter to keep up to date on the latest scams.

 

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