Gift cards are popular and convenient… and not just for gifts. Con artists have latched onto gift cards as a quick form of payment in their scams. In an AARP survey, 1 in 3 adults said they or someone they know had been asked to purchase a gift card to pay a bill, fee, or some other debt or obligation or to claim a prize. Nationally, the nearly 65,000 consumers who filed complaints with the FTC about gift card payment scams in 2022 lost a total of $228.3 million.
AARP Iowa is advocating for common sense legislation that would require retailers selling gift cards to post a notice informing consumers about what gift card scams are and who to contact if they suspect a scam.
AARP is calling on state lawmakers to support Senate File 2334, a bill that would help protect Iowans from this nefarious practice.
Click here to read real stories from Iowans about the impact of gift card scams.
What is a Gift Card Scam?
Gift card scams occur when a person is contacted about an urgent financial matter and told the quickest way to address the issue is to buy a gift card. Often scammers pull at people's heartstrings by suggesting a loved one is in trouble, and they are the only one who can help.
The person is then told to share the gift card numbers via phone call, e-mail, or by physically placing the cards at a drop point. Once the scammer receives the card numbers, they can quickly convert the card to cash or make other purchases and disappear. This money is usually untraceable and nearly impossible to recover.
What Can We Do?
Money lost to gift card scams is often impossible to trace and recover, so consumer education and prevention are critical. AARP Iowa supports legislation that would require retailers selling gift cards to post a notice informing consumers about what gift card scams are and who to contact if they suspect a scam.
Imposter scams have been the dominant scam in Iowa for nearly a decade, costing Iowans millions. Clearly, something needs to change. This simple notice will help people think twice before buying a gift card to pay someone.
This story is provided by AARP Iowa. Visit the AARP Iowa page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
Tuesday, Mar 19, 2024 at 9:30 a.m. CT
AARP Iowa State Office
Des Moines, IA
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 at 8:00 a.m. CT
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. CT