Gift Card Fraud Prevention

Learn the easiest ways to spot and stop gift card scams and gift card fraud.

If you think you’re the victim of a gift card scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission or call their toll-free number at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Fraud Alert Video

Spoiler Alert!

No legitimate business or government agency will ever ask for payment with gift cards.

No matter what a scammer tells you–I promise, the IRS is not coming to get you, your grandson is not in a foreign prison and you will not be able to get a virus off of your computer by purchasing a gift card. If someone asks you to buy gift cards, just hang up the phone.

In this video, I’ll share how easy it is to spot a GIFT CARD SCAM.

Here’s the Real Story on Gift Card Fraud

The best way to stop gift card fraud is to remember that no government agency or reputable business will EVER ask for payment with gift cards. That includes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the lottery, utility companies, local police departments, the courthouse, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hospitals and more. That also means people you meet on the Internet who ask you to buy gift cards are probably scammers too.

Scam stories vary, but the one thing they all have in common is that you will be asked to buy gift cards and give someone the numbers from the gift cards. Once the scammer has the gift card numbers, they steal the value from the cards…and ask you to buy more gift cards.

The scam does not end until you stop buying gift cards.

But don’t worry. Here’s how to easily spot and stop gift card fraud from happening to you.

  • 1. How to SPOT a Gift Card Scam

    If someone asks you to quickly run to the store and buy a bunch of gift cards, it’s probably a scam.

    What should you do?

    This is the easy part. Hang up the phone, delete the email or delete the text. If you want to be sure it’s a scam, then reach out directly to the person or company the scammer is pretending to be.

    Learn how Gift Card Girlfriend helped one consumer avoid a gift card scam.

  • 2. How to STOP a Gift Card Scam

    If you think you’re being scammed, but you haven’t purchased any gift cards yet, then just end the conversation–hang up the phone, delete the text, or block the caller. Don’t listen to any more of the story.

    If you want to be sure it’s a hoax, contact the business or person directly. For example, if you get a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from your bank, contact your bank directly. Don’t use a phone number provided by the caller or do an Internet search. Instead, locate the number on your bank statement or go directly to your bank’s website. Unfortunately, scammers also route people to scam phone numbers and create fake websites to lure consumers into their schemes.

    If you did buy gift cards, contact the Federal Trade Commission on their website or call their toll-free number at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

  • 3. How to SAFELY Buy and Use Gift Cards

    Only purchase gift cards from legitimate merchants such as individual retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, or online here at

    When you receive a gift card, activate the gift card and check the balance using the website address, QR code or phone number shown on the back of the card or on the gift card packaging. Do not do an online search in hopes of landing on the correct website. There are many gift card issuers, and you must activate or check the balance of your gift card on the correct site. Additionally, scammers sometimes create imposter gift card websites to trick people into entering their gift card details so the value can be drained.

    Here’s a video you can watch on how to find official gift card activation sites.

Once again, BEWARE OF SCAMS.

Utility companies, lotteries, the IRS, government agencies, or any other legitimate company will not request payment in the form of gift cards. Never provide card numbers to ANYONE over the phone or by email. Providing your card number to someone is like sending cash and funds cannot be traced or retrieved.

If you think you’re the victim of a scam, contact the The FTC on their website or call their toll-free number at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Contact Gift Card Girlfriend

For media inquiries on gift card fraud and other ways to help consumers avoid gift card scams, please refer to our media page.