The Better Business Bureau is warning people of a sizable increase in gift card scams. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Better Business Bureau is warning people of a sizable increase in gift card scams. (Black Press Media file photo)

Gift card scam losses nearly tripled in three years: Better Business Bureau

Consumers over 65 most likely to lose money according to study

If you’re being asked to make a payment by gift card you are almost certainly being scammed, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding people.

In a recent investigative study, the organization – spanning Canada, the U.S. and Mexico – found that losses from gift card scams nearly tripled from $1,179,563 in 2017 to $2,953,174 in 2020. The numbers reflect an increasing number of scammers cashing in on gift card popularity, especially during pandemic times.

“Gift cards don’t carry the same protections as credit or debit cards, so funds spent on gift cards are funds you cannot get back,” said Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of the BBB Vancouver Island.

READ ALSO: Victoria man out $6,000 in latest gift card phone scam

In 2020, the median gift card loss reported to the BBB was $700, with the majority of victims being 65 or older. Typically, during a gift card scam, the fraudster will impersonate a government agency, business associate, tech support employee, romantic interest or seller to convince the target to buy a gift card and either read the numbers on the back of it or send a photo. To convince the victim, scammers may say the government has entered a new contract with a gift card company or may promise to reimburse them.

The Canada Anti-Fraud Centre received 2,702 gift card scam complaints in 2020, up from 2,301 in 2019 and 2,098 in 2018. According to the BBB, the most commonly requested gift cards include eBay, Google Play, Target, iTunes, Amazon and Steam, an online gaming company.

READ ALSO: Victoria senior cheated of $3,000 in gift card scam

There are two main red flags the BBB says people should watch out for, including government agencies requesting payment, statements that buying gift cards is a safe way to make a payment. It also suggests people keep receipts from buying gift cards and inspect the card for any tampering before purchasing. Some scammers, the BBB said, will open the card and record the numbers on the back before they are purchased so once they are activated the scammers have access to it.

Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam can contact the issuer of the card, local police, the BBB, the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre or the Canadian Financial Consumer Agency.

READ ALSO: Sidney business owner warns of power-disconnection scam


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Greater VictoriaScams

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Glenn Moyer is seeking space on a public wharf in Sicamous in order to restart his water taxi business after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19. (Glenn’s Water Taxi/Facebook)
Water taxi operator requests public dock moorage in Sicamous

Glenn Moyer, a long time water taxi operator, is brimming with stories of life on the lake

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

New signage was installed leading up to the intersection of 10th Avenue SW and Highway 97B in 2019, but concerns have been raised about continuing danger. (File photo)
Improvements urged for Salmon Arm’s Highway 97B/10th Avenue SE intersection

Council may bring up overpass with transportation ministry as crossing under provincial control

Sicamous Council approved a development permit for a new mobile home park on Hillier road on Wednesday, April 14. (Jim Elliot- Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous council approves development of 35 unit mobile home park

The new development will be located on Hillier Road

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP were present at the McDonalds in Armstrong Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Tomer Joury - Facebook)
Police handle ‘high-risk’ situation at Armstrong residence

A woman was apprehended and taken to hospital under the Mental Health Act; no charges laid

Most Read