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Apr 6, 2021

Gift Cards: A Red Flag Of A Scam

Sponsored Content provided by Suzanne Black - NC Coastal Associate State Director for Advocacy and Community Outreach, AARP

AARP wants to help protect you from fraud. A key part of being able to spot a scam is knowing the red flags – those signs that suggest that just maybe what you’re confronting isn’t legitimate. One of the biggest red flags these days is anyone who tries to convince you that you owe some debt or other obligation, and the quickest way to address the issue is to purchase gift cards and share the information off the back.

Why gift cards? First, they are readily available. You see them at your grocery store, department store, and hardware store. Second, it’s a way that criminals can get your money instantly and the money is easy to move around. As soon as a target sends the numbers to the gift card they’ve purchased, the criminal is able to convert it to currency in an instant. Not surprisingly, the Federal Trade Commission reports that gift cards have been the most common form of payment in scams since 2018.

Reminder to beware of government imposters – The IRS and Social Security will not call you.

Tax time is here again and so are the IRS impostors! Scammers posing as IRS agents or Treasury Department officials are out there once again, calling to convince taxpayers that they owe back taxes and face immediate arrest. Know this: the IRS will initially contact you through the mail if you owe back taxes. If you receive an unexpected phone call, an email or a text indicating it’s from the IRS, do not engage. Report the scam attempt to the IRS at 800-366-4484 or www.tigta.gov. If you receive an email, forward it to the IRS at [email protected], and then delete it.
 
Social Security impostor scams continue to be the most prevalent scams in the United States. In 2020, the Social Security Office of the Inspector General received well over 700,000 reports of Social Security impostor scams, and 70% of the calls to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline were related to Social Security impostors.

Remember, the real Social Security Administration will not call you unless you are already in discussions with the agency on a particular issue. They certainly won’t threaten to cut off your benefits or seek to “help” with an identity theft problem. Anyone who does is NOT from the Social Security Administration.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

Visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork  or call the AARP Fraud Watch Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.


Suzanne LaFollette-Black has been a gerontologist for the past 35+ years. She is the AARP NC Associate State Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach. Suzanne’s career has been in the aging network as a non-profit nursing home administrator, Area Agency on Aging Director, Executive Director of Moore County Department of Aging. Suzanne is originally from Window Rock, Arizona (Navajo Indian reservation). Suzanne has a BS in Sociology and minor in Zoology/ Music from NAU and graduate studies at USC Ethel Andrus Percy Gerontology program and MASA from University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. She served as the NCAOA (NC Association on Aging, Inc.) President from 2018-2020; Rotary; NCIOM Deaf and Hearing committee; Governor’s Highway Safety Executive Committee; and other community organizations.

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