December 4, 2019
During this busy time of year, consumers and businesses are distracted with holiday preparations and celebrations and cybercriminals are eager to take advantage.
Cybersecurity is one of Cape Cod 5's top priorities and, in honor of December being National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month, we are bringing you these cybersecurity safety tips so that you can identify and protect yourself from the latest scams.
Gift cards are a popular gift around the holiday season, but did you know they are also a favorite way for scammers to steal money? According to the Federal Trade Commission, more scammers are demanding payment with a gift card than ever before – an incredible 270 percent increase since 2015!
During a gift card scam, a fraudster will contact a victim by phone with an urgent request for a payment to be made under guise of a variety of reasons, including: to avoid IRS penalties or an arrest, a shutdown of utilities or an emergency for a family member.
The scammer or imposter will instruct that the gift card(s) be purchased from leading box store retailers like Walmart, Target, Walgreens or CVS or from popular online app stores like iTunes or Google Play. Once the card has been purchased in the amount demanded, the scammer will ask for the gift card number and PIN located on the back of the card. These numbers serve as the pathway for the scammer to retrieve the money you loaded on the card without a trace.
It is important to remember that gift cards are for gifts not payments. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a gift card scam, they should report the scam to the company who issued the card as soon as possible.
You can also report any scam or fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
Tips: How to Safely Use a Gift Card
Gift cards are like cash - Save your receipts! Whether you purchase the card or the card is a gift to you, the receipt contains the card ID number, which you will need to report if the card is lost or stolen.
Inspect the card - Confirm the card packaging is intact and all security stickers have not been removed. Examine the codes on the back of the card to ensure they have not been scratched off. Report any card compromises to the merchant.
- Use the card as soon as you can - While gift cards are convenient, they can easily be misplaced or forgotten. Get the full value of the card by using them early.
Click here to view an informative Federal Trade Commission video on how to detect and protect yourself from a gift card scam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfHI6ToZff4&feature=youtu.be