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

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees in Oyster Bay

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Ladysmith’s Taylor Walters received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award and is hard at work pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at Quest University. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith teen receives Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for advocating equal access to STEM opportunities

‘Different people think differently and that’s so important for innovation,’ Taylor Walters says

A vehicle is totalled after a driver crashed into the side of a tow truck outside Central Island Towing. (Cole Schisler photo)
Car totalled after colliding with the back of a tow truck in Ladysmith

Nobody was injured, but repairs on the tow truck are expected to cost thousands of dollars

Chemainus Art Group creates mural mosaic to celebrate a joyful spring. (Photo submitted)
Art group members celebrate a joyful spring in Chemainus

Each of 33 squares pushed together into one mural

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read