Gift Card Scams: How to Protect Yourself – Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2021-12-07 17:13:13 –

During the holidays, it’s easy to be the victim of fraud while shopping, giving gifts, or waiting for luggage.

“Scammers have become incredibly sophisticated in their attempts. They become more personal in their approach, do online research, learn who their friends and family are, fear and immediate. We are now able to generate action, “said Jenny Grounds, Chief Marketing Officer for Cybercrime Support. The network said.

The organization has launched Scam Spotter.

“ScamSpotter is a platform we developed to educate consumers about the most common scams that are happening today,” Grounds said.

And now she said gift card scams are at the top of many lists.

“Gift card fraud is expected to increase by 27%, which happens during the gift card season, coupled with the supply chain shortage we see,” she said.

The Federal Trade Commission has said that putting a pun on the back of a gift card to scammers is the best way to report that people have lost money. From 2018 to 2020, people reported losing a total of more than $ 245 million.

“It really felt like an out-of-body experience,” said Alyssa Okrent.

She was a victim of gift card fraud.

“I read the text and realized that it was saying Amazon, and as you know, there was a fraudulent charge for the phone, the $ 800 phone,” Okrent said. rice field.

She called the number provided and was told to buy a gift card and continue the call.

“It had to be a gift card, and again, these were many warning signs in hindsight,” she explained. “I got the card, gave it the number, took a picture, and went home. Then my husband came and wondered,” What’s wrong? ” And I realized I was hacked. “

She lost $ 500, but others in her community lost more than $ 17,000 in a similar scam.

“It’s really scary to know that I was caught that way,” said Okrent.

“The most common scams today are grandparents and grandchildren. Someone contacts you and says your child or grandchild is in trouble. To solve the problem, you need to use a gift card. Yes, it’s a scam, “Grounds said.

Regardless of fraud, cybersecurity expert Nathan Evans said there are several ways people can protect themselves.

“If someone asks you to pay with a gift card, don’t do it,” said Evans, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Denver.

He said fraud peaked at this time of the year.

“You need to keep your computer up-to-date. You need to install some antivirus software,” he said.

Okrent said he wanted to help others notice more after it happened to her.

“Follow your intuition,” she said.

“These crimes are rarely reported, so if this happens to you, it’s a good idea to report it to everyone,” Ground said.

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