At a time of year when many of us are purchasing gift cards to enable loved ones to buy something of their choosing, data from the Federal Trade Commission reveal that, increasingly, criminals are separating consumers from their savings by tricking them into buying gift cards for them.
In the first nine months of this year, according to the FTC, consumers reported losing $148 million in scams where gift cards were used as the form of payment. That amount is more than was reported for all 12 months of last year.
Almost 40,000 consumers have used gift cards to pay scammers so far this year. Most of the scammers said they were from large companies or government agencies, according to the consumers who reported them, and Target gift cards were the most requested form of gift cards.
Since 2018, both the number of consumers filing reports in which gift cards were the form of payment to scammers and the amount consumers have reported lost have increased steadily, the FTC said.
Fortunately, the FTC has resources for consumers, including information on how to contact gift card companies to try to stop payments to scammers, at ftc.gov/giftcards. The agency also publishes general information about scams for consumers, as well as information about another type of scam that, unfortunately, is common at this time of year: charity scams.
The FTC also has brochures, flyers, booklets, bookmarks and other publications that you can post or distribute at your senior living community to educate residents, family members and staff members about scams and other topics. They’re free to print out or order and have shipped to you. Visit this website to see the scam-related materials.
They would make nice gifts!