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FTC: Americans lost $148 million to gift card scams this year
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Americans reported losing $148 million to gift card scams during the first nine months of 2021, following a significant increase compared to last year.
Almost 40,000 consumers reported falling victim to scams where gift cards were the chosen form of payment throughout the year.
The $148 million lost to scammers until the end of September 2021 amounts to more than the total losses reported in 2020.
This type of scam payments has increased every year during the last three years, now reaching staggering numbers both in the number of reports and the total amount of losses.
“Since 2018, both the numbers of consumers filing reports in which gift cards were the form of payment to scammers and the amount they have reported lost have increased steadily,” the FTC said.
“The FTC has resources for consumers, including information on how to contact gift card companies to try to stop payments to scammers at”
While Google Play, Apple, eBay, and Walmart gift cards have remained popular options for scammers, they now switched to asking for Target gift cards which are now their most popular choice.
“Most gift card scams start with a phone call from someone impersonating a branch of the government like the Social Security Administration, or a business,” the US government agency added.
“The caller might threaten to freeze your bank account and tell you that you must buy gift cards to avoid arrest or to keep access to your money in your bank account.”
The most important thing to remember if you don’t want to fall victim to a gift card scam is that gift cards are meant to be used to get gifts, NOT to make payments.
If someone calling from a government agency or a bank says you have to pay taxes to avoid arrest or pay off an unknown debt to keep access to your bank account, they are always a scammer. 
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