By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville Police Department is once again warning residents about scammers asking people to buy gift cards after one resident became a victim.
The victim reported a person posing as an employee with Apple on a phone call. The victim told police she was trying to update her payment method with Apple when a scammer called her and asked her to purchase two Target gift cards. The victim went to Publix, purchased the gift cards for $400 and $500 and gave the caller the gift card numbers, before realizing the scheme.
Police Chief Eric Rush said this type of scam is not uncommon.
“It is important for people to be aware of these scams,” Rush said. “Scammers are often asking people for gift cards because they know you won’t be able to get your money back.”
According to the FTC, other kinds of scammers, some of them also imposters, who might demand payment by gift card include:
- callers pretending to be from a utility company, telling you to pay your bill by gift card or they’ll cut off your power or water
- sellers on online auction sites who ask for gift cards to “buy” big items like cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs, tractors and electronics
- someone posing as a servicemember to get your sympathy, saying he has to sell something quickly before deployment and needs you to pay by gift card
- callers who say you’ve won a so-called prize, for a sweepstakes you probably never entered – but first, you have to use a gift card to pay fees or other charges
- someone buying something from you, probably online, who sends a check for more than the purchase price – and asks you to give them the difference on a gift card. (That check, by the way, will turn out to be fake.)
Target says its gift cards can only be used at Target stores and on Target.com, and cannot be used to purchase other prepaid or specialty gift cards. Furthermore, Target says no legitimate government entity or business will accept any form of gift cards as payment.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a gift card scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.