- Grandparent Scam – The scammer impersonates a grandchild of the victim who claims to be in some sort of trouble, typically related to a car accident or arrest, and in need of money to pay for bail or a lawyer. Victims report that the scheme was believable because the scammers knew the names and other information about their grandchild and sounded like their grandchild. Click here to read more about the Grandparent Scam, including a PSA on how to avoid being duped.
- IRS Scam – The scammer impersonates someone from the IRS attempting to collect taxes allegedly owed. The scammer usually threatens arrest that day if the debt is not paid immediately via gift cards. Again, the victims report that the scheme is believable because the scammers may give the name and badge number of a real IRS agent whose identity can be verified online, the scammers may know detailed information about the victim’s tax history, or the scammers may send the victim an email that appears to be from an IRS domain.
- Tech Support Scam – The scammer impersonates a tech support employee claiming to work for the manufacturer of the victim’s computer. The scammer claims there is a virus and requests remote access to the victim’s computer. After the scammer “fixes” a non-existent problem, he or she demands payment for the services and refuses to unlock the computer until the victim pays.
- Reducing the total amount that a consumer can purchase in one transaction in store-branded gift cards.
- Reducing the dollar limit that can be loaded on a store-branded gift card.
- Placing restrictions on the redemption of store-branded gift cards, including prohibiting the redemption of store-branded gift cards for other gift cards.
- Enhancing employee training to help employees identify the warning signs of gift card scams and warn potential victims when appropriate.
It is important for all consumers to educate themselves to recognize the signs of a potential scam. The Attorney General offers this information and advice:
- You cannot pay bail, a lawyer, the IRS, or tech support using retail gift cards. If someone demands to be paid with a gift card, it’s a scam.
- Never give gift card numbers on the back of gift cards to someone you don’t know.
- Taxpayers should remember the IRS does not initiate contact with a consumer over a tax debt by phone, but through official mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are the IRS, urging immediate payment.
- Develop a secret code or “password” with family members that can be used to verify the identity of family members over the phone. You can also ask a question that only the real family member would know the answer to, such as “what was the name of your first pet?”
- In general, it’s a good idea to ignore phone calls if you don’t recognize the number. If it’s someone you know, they will leave a voicemail or send you a text.
- If a retail clerk warns you that you may be the victim of a gift card scam, heed the advice and call your loved one or law enforcement officials.
If you discover that a loved one has fallen prey to a gift card scam, immediately contact the retailer where the cards were purchased to see if the retailer can freeze any funds remaining on the card Consumers should also contact the New York State Office of the Attorney General by filing a complaint online or calling 1-800-771-7755.