A new Federal Trade Commission data projector shows that in the first nine months of 2021, consumers reported losing $ 148 million in scams where gift cards were used as a form of payment. This amount is higher than that declared for the whole of 2020.
Nearly 40,000 consumers said they used gift cards to pay a scammer in that time frame, according to the spotlight, which is based on fraud reports submitted to the FTC by consumers. More often than not, consumers have reported paying scammers who impersonate large corporations or government agencies.
A new development noted in the spotlight is the emergence of Target gift cards as the most popular choice for scammers in reports received by the FTC. Target gift cards accounted for around $ 35 million in payments to fraudsters, more than double that of any other brand of gift cards. The median amount lost when consumers paid with Target gift cards, $ 2,500, was higher than any other brand of card, with nearly one-third reporting losses of $ 5,000 or more.
Scammers have also asked consumers to buy gift cards, regardless of the brand of the card, from a Target store more often than any other location, according to The Spotlight.
Since 2018, both the number of consumers filing reports in which gift cards were the crooks’ form of payment and the amount they said they lost have increased steadily. The spotlight also notes that the median loss reported by consumers to scammers when paying with gift cards has increased from $ 700 to $ 1,000.
The FTC has resources for consumers, including information on how to contact gift card companies to try and stop payments to scammers at ftc.gov/giftcards. The agency also has information for gift card retailers, including materials that can be displayed in stores and used to train employees in ftc.gov/StopGiftCardScams.
The Federal Trade Commission endeavors to promote competition, stop deceptive and unfair business practices and scams, and educate consumers. Report fraud, scams or bad business practices on RapportFraud.ftc.gov. Get consumption advice on consumer.ftc.gov. As well, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases, and read the FTC blogs.