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5 Ways to Detect Gift Card Scam

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Ways to detect Gift card scam

The extensive usage of gift cards in recent times have made gift card scam become popular and sometimes, its is difficult to detect gift card scam. First, what is a gift card scam? Gift card scams are scams involving the use of gift cards. One of the reasons why gift card scams are popular is due to the untraceable and transferable nature of gift cards. This has made it important to know and be able to detect gift card scam.

The identity of gift cards are not tied to one person. This has made the scam rate on gift card more rampant than that of normal cards issued at banks. To detect gift card scam, one has to be very careful with their activities online because most of this scams takes place online. Scams involving gift cards are popular because of the few protections available for users of gift cards. However, there are preventive and corrective measures to take when you are faced with gift card scams. 

In this article, we will talk about some of the common gift card scams, how you can detect and avoid them. 

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How to Detect Gift Card Scam

The events described in this article are fictional and are purely for illustrative purposes.

1. Threatening Call from Fake Government Operative

This is a very common method of gift card scam. For example, Matt receives a call from an IRS operative that he owes $2500 in taxes and is threatened with legal action, he is then asked to settle the debt by sending the codes on the gift card he procures from any physical or online store, this is a pure scam!

According to the Federal Trade Commission of the US government, “No real business or government agency will ever insist you pay them with a gift card”.

On the FTC website, this kind of scam is expatiated upon, 

a. The scammer issues a threat of consequences if you don’t pay immediately. 

b. The scammer tells you which gift card to buy. 

c. The scammer asks for the gift card number and the pin (Doing this immediately gives the scammer access to the money on the gift card).

2. 3-Way Call 

This scam occurs when the buyer (obviously fake) asks the seller to confirm the balance in a three-way call with the merchant. As the seller enters the gift card number, the buyer records the touch-tone entered by the seller to intercept the gift card number. 

It makes sense to confirm the balance of the gift card before the transaction is completed, that makes this scam almost undetectable. To avoid this scam, it is best to sell to a reseller that offers a money-back guarantee. 

You should prevent people from listening in on your conversation when you type the numbers in a gift card. 

3Tampered Packaging

If the packaging of the gift card looks tampered with in any way, it is probably a scam. Scammers go through different avenues like scratching off the pin and re-covering it with a sticker.  To avoid this, the companies that make the gift cards have put improved measures such as special packaging. 

When you want to buy a gift card, check carefully to ensure that the card has not been tampered with. If you notice the gift card has been tampered with, report to the cashier and do not buy it. 

4Fake Activation Website

A scam is at play when the website you want to activate the gift card on is different from that written on the gift card. This scam is possible when you search for the activation website rather than visiting the website on the card. 

When you purchase a gift card, you need to activate the card by visiting an activation website. The scammers create a fake activation website hoping the buyer lands on these sites and inputs the details of the card. 

To avoid this scam, you should type in the website yourself. The scammers will design the website to almost look like the original website. However, if you closely observe, you will discover discrepancies on the website. 

For example, if you want to check your gift card balance, it has to be done on you gift card’s official website. Sign in to your account and check balance

For eBay gift card

For Amazon gift card

For Nike Gift card

For Nordstrom Gift card

For iTunes Gift card


When sellers attempt to sell gift card codes for lower than the face value, it is a red flag. Some sellers attempt to use the card quickly after they have sold the gift card. To prevent this scam, it is best to buy from sellers who have a refund policy. 

You are at risk of being a victim of this scam if you have a fond interest in gift card discounts. 

Other Common Scams include:

– People calling from tech support of companies asking you to make payments in gift cards.

– People on dating sites asking for money through gift cards. 

– Pretending to be a family or friend who is in an emergency and needs payment through gift cards.

– People asking you to make payments in gift cards to claim your prize. 

What to do after you Detect Gift Card Scam 

If you are a victim of a gift card scam, you could take these steps to rectify the situation.

– Contact the gift card company (the contact information for these companies can be gotten on the FTC website).

– Keep the gift card and the receipt for the card. 

– Report to the local law enforcement. 

To prevent the gift card scam, you should procure gift cards from only trusted vendors, you should also observe to see if the physical cards have been tampered with. 

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