AARP scam alert: The problem with gift cards

Tue, 05/03/2022 - 8:00am

It’s not always risk-free with America’s favorite gift.

There are two types of gift card scams. In the first, a criminal convinces a consumer to pay a fake financial obligation buy purchasing gift cards and sharing the numbers off the back of the cards. In the second, scammers have already accessed the cards while on the store racks, leading a consumer to purchase or receive a card with zero funds.  Shockingly, the research finds that 73 million Americans have experienced one of these forms of gift card fraud. 

In other words, one third of U.S. adults say they have been targeted by scams seeking payment by gift card, according to a report by the AARP Fraud Watch Network. And nearly a quarter of consumers have given or received gift cards that had no funds on them. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumer reported scams led to losses of $233 million in 2021 to scams involving gift cards as the form of payment. Remember, gift cards are for gifts – not payment. If anyone you don’t know asks you to pay them with a pre-paid card, it is a scam.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at