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

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of Maple Ridge man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Langley, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge still driving more, taking transit less

A sign to students outside Pitt Meadows secondary. The school is not currently listed by Fraser Health as having COVID-19 exposures. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Four more Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows schools exposed to COVID-19

Cases at three public schools and Maple Ridge Christian

Born and raised in Maple Ridge, Ernie Daykin is still astonished at this community’s beauty. He recently captured this image of the snow covered peaks of the Golden Ears in the background, and cherry blossoms in the foreground. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View of Golden Ears from many different perspectives

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Spray paint was discovered at Hot Rocks. (Special to The News)
Popular Maple Ridge summer destination vandalized

Rocks discovered with spray paint along South Alouette

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

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

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

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Of 46 arrests made between March 16 and 19 at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, 27 suspected shoplifters are now facing charges. (Twitter/Burnaby RCMP)
RCMP arrest 46 people in 4 days during Metrotown shoplifting crackdown

$4,800 in stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to businesses inside of the mall

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
‘Prolific offender’ charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Kao Macaulay, 23, is accused of breaking into home on March 30

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

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.

Most Read