In a series of apple gift card scams, people are being asked to make payments over the phone for taxes, hospital bills, bail money, debt collection, and utility bills. The scams have resorted to various approaches, gift cards being one of them. The fraudsters ask for codes from Apple Gift Cards, App Store & iTunes Gift Cards, or Apple Store Gift Cards.
There is a pattern these scammers follow; the victim gets a call that inspires panic and makes the victim pay by purchasing Apple Gift Cards, App Store & iTunes Gift Cards, or Apple Store Gift Cards from the nearest retailer. After purchasing the cards, the victim is made to pay by sharing the code on the back of the card.
Apple Gift Cards are only useful to buy goods and services from Apple and can be redeemed only through the Apple Online Store and at Apple Retails Stores. If you are asked to use the cards for anything other than this, it is a scam.
Do not give the numbers on the back of the Gift Card to unknown people. If you end up sharing the numbers on the card, your funds will be spent even before you contact Apple or take legal action.
What is a Gift Card Scam?
A conman impersonates an agency such as the IRS or, say, Apple and tries to trick a victim into giving them a huge amount of money in gift cards. Scammers often ask for Target gift cards, but Google Play, Apple, eBay, and Walmart cards are the most common ones requested.
The scams resort to fear tactics, threatening to charge a victim’s account with thousands of dollars of fees if they do not supply them with gift cards worth thousands of dollars. The latest scams also have someone posing as a law enforcement officer threatening jail. Scammers may also claim to be legal officer who has a relative in jail. The scammer then requests gift cards to make the problem disappear. Numerous scams appear every day; make sure you keep yourself and your family vigilant about these scams.
Identifying a Gift Card Scam
First things first, no agency, police, IRS, student loan collectors, etc., will ever ask for gift cards as a debt settlement option. Also, no company will ask for gift cards to solve any issue with your account. Apple has also added an About Apple Gift Card Scams page to ensure that customers are adept with the how-tos of gift cards.
Scammers pretend to be someone else and pressure you into acting on your toes, so you have no time to think or talk to someone. They may pose to be from the government, tech support, your friend or family member, or a utility company. It can be a romance scam; someone you met online might trick you into sending them gift cards. The scammer may claim that you have won a prize, but you will have to pay a certain amount with a gift card to access it.
Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid Gift Card Scams:
- If you receive a call prying on your personal information, do not give it.
- Do not confirm that you have an Apple or Amazon account or give your name, location, or any identifying information.
- Do not provide access to your computer
- Don’t visit any website, click a link, or download any file they ask you to.
- If you are not buying anything from Apple, there is no use of the Apple Gift Card; if there is, it is a scam.
Not everyone gets out of an apple gift card scam unhinged. In 2021, more than 40,000 people were scammed and lost more than $148 million in total, according to the FTC reports. And these are the victims who reported the crime; there are many cases that went unreported.
How to Buy And Use Gift Cards Safely?
Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Other than that, when you buy gift cards to give away, keep in mind,
- Buy from stores you trust and not online auction sites since they may be fake or stolen.
- Check the card before buying it, ensure that the protective stickers are intact and are not tampered with. Check if the PIN is visible.
- Keep your receipt or the card’s ID number; this helps you file a report if you lose the gift card.
The losses from gift card scams have increased manifold since 2018. If you have been asked to send a gift card code, keep the gift card and your receipt. Report the scam to the company you bought it from; if it is an Apple Gift Card, report the scam to Apple. You may think of yourself as immune to gift card scams, someone you know maybe not. Scammers often spot soft targets who are not adept with all of this. Keep your loved ones informed and safe.
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