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How To Spot And Avoid Gift Card Scams? An Ultimate Guide

Do you want to know how to spot gift card scams? Are you searching for how to spot gift card scams to avoid them? Are you curious in knowing how to spot gift card scams as you can then easily avoid them?

If yes! This article will be helpful to you indeed.

Gift card scams are not difficult to pull off but yes it is tricky or hard to trace them. Scammers can easily trick you into buying gift cards for different services like Steam or eBay in a variety of ways. So it’s necessary to learn how to spot gift card scams and avoid being scammed. In this article, we are going to explore what are gift card scams and how they work. We will explore the different types of gift card scams as well as the ways you can avoid them.

Let’s explore how to spot and avoid gift card scams!

What Are Gift Card Scams?

Gift card scams are known as fraudulent/suspicious activities where the main purpose of scammers is to trick people into purchasing gift cards and providing them with personal information such as card codes or PINs.

Scammers make use of different strategies which include fraudulent prize offers, technical sports hoaxes, or tricking victims into providing gift card information. Scammers can use these gift cards to make illicit purchases or mostly they sell them on a black market once they got card details.

For example, scammers used to create fake profiles on social media platforms or dating services to build up a rapport with the victims. After that, they request money and personal information from the victims and tell them this is necessary in case of an emergency.

Gift card scams in cryptocurrency are just so much similar to traditional gift card scams but instead of gift cards, scammers make use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ether, or any other type. In these kinds of scams, scammers ask the victims to send them cryptocurrency by promising them an award, prize, and most commonly investment opportunity.

To win the trust of their victims or satisfy their victims, scammers could employ phishing websites, phony social media profiles as well as other strategies. Yes! It is easy for scammers to disappear after receiving the crypto as they deprive the victims of any chance of getting their money back.

How Do Gift Card Scams Work?

Scammers use cryptocurrency gift cards to convert stolen frauds into untraceable/undetectable and anonymous forms of currency.

Scammers pretend and act to be traders or investors mostly on telegram and offer beneficial significant investment returns using gift cards.  They approach unwitting victims most of the time and offers to sell cryptocurrencies at discount and guarantee that their investment will be doubled through social media channels.

The scammers will ask the victim to buy gift cards and then submits the code to complete the transaction and satisfy the victims by saying that the codes will be used to purchase cryptocurrencies.

Gift card scammers start by pressuring the victim into buying/purchasing a gift card. Then scammers try to deceive their victims to reveal/unveil their gift card number and PIN, which the scammers redeem immediately. Gift card scammers often gain the confidence of victims by saying that they are government employees or family members.

You will be thinking why do scammers are in search of gift cards instead of credit card numbers? That’s because gift card fraud is anonymous, which is impossible to reverse. It is easy to cancel the fraudulent charges on the credit card, but gift card changes are not possible.

Phishing is the most common way for scammers to get details that they need to complete a scam. Scammers usually focus on popular/famous platforms with multiple unsuspecting victims and they change their approach based on audience.

How To Spot And Avoid Gift Card Scams?

As we have discussed the basics of gift card scams and how gift card scams work.

To avoid gift card scams, you need to be familiar with different types of gift card scams, when you will be familiar with types of gift card scams it will be easy for you to detect or spot the gift card scam if someone will try to fraud you. Here we will explore the different types of gift card scams as well as the ways to avoid them.

Different Types Of Gift Card Scams:

Gift card scams begin with suspicious phone calls, texts, emails, social media messages, or even a fake anti-virus pop-up. It can also happen physically. Most of the scams like tech support scams and gift card scams.

The most common type of gift card includes scams that are issued by famous companies or industries with physical goods like Amazon, Target, eBay, or Walmart. Vanilla gift card scams are most common and they are especially popular because these cards are available and valid everywhere.

Any gift card can be easily scammed so any consumer can be easily targeted. To make yourself free from gift card scams you should be familiar with gift card scams.

Let’s move forward to discuss common gift card scam types!

1. Money Collection Scams:

In money collection scams, a fake employee from a utility company calls texts, or emails you to send them money. If you will not pay them, they will arrest you or shut off your service. They will forcefully ask you to pay them by buying/purchasing gift cards and giving them the gift card numbers.

How To Avoid Them?

Government and utility companies will never call you and ask you to pay in gift cards and they never directly contact people to ask for money.

Government and utility companies will not threaten you or not shut down your service. If someone calls you just hang up and then call the official number of service to verify.

Tech support scams are similar scams in which someone pretends as a technical authority or computer expert. Scammers usually fake their numbers so that they can span a lot of people without getting traced.

2. Online Auction Scams:

On an auction site, a scammer’s main target or focus is to sell a fake gift card with a low balance. You will be trapped as you will think it can be a beneficial deal for you.

How To Avoid Them:

Any gift card scam that is sold in an auction is mostly a scam. Just don’t buy gift cards on eBay or other auction sites even if they try to appear as legitimate resources.

EBay card scams are famous because they are used to target people who are addicted to online shopping. EBay card scammers usually trick people into thinking that they can make use of gift cards for the products they have their eyes on. The gift card scam is invalid actually and yes there is no money remaining on the cord

Auction sites are vulnerable to PayPal scams where PayPal fake emails are sent to people claiming that money has been sent but here funds won’t be released until the tracking number of the item is given.

3. Bot Scams:

Gift card scammers scam by sending malicious bots to scan the gift card and drain out active gift card balances. The scammers then used to buy products themselves or sell them.

How To Avoid Them?

It is advised that don’t activate your gift card until you plan to use it in the right way. Apple gift card scams are mostly used by scammers who use bots with google play card scams, and digital marketplace card scams.

A scammer can do a lot of Google Play cards or other types of digital cards, they use them for themselves or sell them for cash.

4. Cashier Scams:

Cashier scams work by activating your gift card and then handing you back an inactivated gift card. Then they get the benefit of these activated cards by selling them for cash.

How To Avoid Scams?

It is advised you keep an eye on cashiers and make sure that your gift card is visible during checkout. Remember how much money is left on your gift card before using it. Cashier gift card scams are mainly used and work in big chains like Walmart with long lines, and a lot of transactions.

Gift card users can also be trapped or deceived by cashier scams at malls or other multiple places where one gift card can be used in different stores.

5. Magstripe Reader Scams:

Scammers used to scan inactivated gift cards by using a device called a Magstripe reader that stores the gift card numbers inside. The scammers used to call customer service with the numbers to know about the activation status and how much balance is left behind.

How To Avoid Them?

It is advised you, not buy gift cards that are displayed publically. It is easy for scammers to pick off cards of these types and run them through the use of a Magstripe reader. Instead of this, just request a gift card from the counter.

6. Damaged Packaging Scams:

The scammer will open up a gift card to get the number, after getting the number scammer will then repackage it and then scratches the PIN code covering, and then replaces it with a sticker. When the card gets activated, the scammer makes use of a number and also a PIN code.

How To Avoid Them?

It is advised that you should examine gift card packaging carefully. Also, make sure to compare it with other gift cards. Just don’t buy gift cards if you are able to easily see the PIN code or other important information about gift cards that need to be hidden before making the purchase.

If someone is asking you to send them a picture of the back side of the eBay gift card you should be clear that they will copy the code and then try to guess the hidden PIN.

8. Fake Gift Card Activation Sites:

Scammers already set up a fake card activation site that is similar to a real one and tries best to harvest your personal information. When you search on Google to access the activation site, you will pharming site popping up. If you will enter your gift card number and PIN to activate the card, the scammers will easily steal your information.

How To Avoid Them?

Just don’t search for the activation of your gift card. Simply type the URL from the information on the card, clearly and directly into the address bar. It will keep you away from getting trapped by a fake gift card activation site.

It will be most effective if you will learn to activate the gift card without scanning it but yes if you will type your information about the gift card will be riskier than someone physically scanning it for you.


As it is not an easy task to spot gift card scams but yes it is possible to spot the gift card scams. It is obvious that when you will be successful in spotting gift card scams then you can easily avoid them.

We have mentioned different types of scams in this article along with tips to avoid them all you have to do is follow these guidelines mentioned above in this article. We are hoping that you will be able to spot and avoid gift card scams now.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s):

Q: How To Avoid Gift Card Fraud?

Ans: The most effective and best way to make yourself safe from gift card scams is to buy only from those retailers you trust, and just avoid buying gift cards from auction sites. While busing a gift card, must read the terms and conditions and also keep track of receipts.

Q: What Are The Dos And Don’Ts Of Avoiding Gift Card Scams?

Ans: While avoiding gift card scams just keep in mind these dos and don’ts;

Do’s Don’ts
Buy gift cards only from trusted stores and sites. Trade gift cards for goods or get services from strangers. Accept gift card payments from someone you don’t know.
Just activate the card with a person if you can. Pay additional fees with gift cards for something you won.
Make sure to check the packaging of the card for tampering. Pay bills in gift cards even if you find them legitimate.
You should compare physical gift cards to ones you know are not fake. Reply to strangers’ messages, emails, texts as well as calls regarding gift cards.
Keep the gift card receipts safe and secure. Activate your gift card earlier than ready to use it.

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