PSA: AVOIDING SCAMS INVOLVING GIFT CARDS

Rise in Scams Involving Payment by Gift Card:

The Perkasie Borough Police Department responds to numerous calls regarding phone or internet scams targeting the citizens of Perkasie. While the specific details of these scams often vary, one of the consistent aspects is that the criminals request you pay them with gift cards. This is common because gift cards are much like cash and as soon as they have the gift card number and the pin code from the back, they can transfer that money and it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get it back. 

Whether they are asking for VISA, Ebay, Steam, or other store specific gift cards, this should be an immediate red flag if someone is asking you to pay in this method. A legitimate business or government agency will NEVER request or accept payment in the form of a gift card unless they are the store issuing that gift card. They certainly will not ask you to send pictures of the gift card to them over a messenger app. If you hear about a federal grant program that sounds too good to be true, or someone on the phone is claiming to be with the IRS or law enforcement, those agencies will NEVER request that you pay them with a gift card. If they make that request, hang up and call 911 and report the incident to your local authorities. 

Lately, these scams often involve someone messaging you who appears to be your friend. There are a lot of ways to be deceptive on the internet and scammers will use any means they can to try to trick you. This can be on Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok, and many other apps. If a distant relative starts telling you about something that sounds suspicious, take a look at the account that is messaging you. Often times it is a new account using a similar username and the same profile picture as the person you know, in order to trick you into a false sense of security. With some easy investigating, you can determine if it is the person you know or someone using a similar-appearing account. Some easy ways to do this are to check their friend list and see if they have all the same mutual friends they should, or if they have little to no friends on their account. You can also check your friend list and see if they are listed a second time under a different username. This might be your actual friend/relative, and the person you are talking to is a scammer. You can also contact that person by different means; a phone call, text message, or different messaging app, and ask them if they were talking to you about whatever made you suspicious. 

Some other common things that scammers will do: if they tell you not to tell anyone about receiving a large windfall, they are actually trying to make sure that you pay them before anyone else finds out about it, because they're afraid someone will tip you off to the scam. If they tell you it is time sensitive and you need to pay them quickly; this is a scam! They want you to make quick impulsive decisions, it means they're more likely to get paid. If they tell you that you have to pay them in order to receive a sum of money; this is a scam, don't do it! If they request any of your personal information or photos of yourself, your ID, or anything of that nature and they want it over the messenger service; this is a scam! Don't give them that information. In addition to monetary loss, they could be using your information for identity theft related purposes in the future. 

Follow these tips to avoid being the victim of fraud!

However, in the event that you do fall victim to one of these schemes, report it right away! Waiting to report this type of incident only makes it more unlikely that anything can be recovered. 

gift card scam