BBB warning of an uptick of gift card scams and provide holiday shopping tips
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - According to Jessie Schmidt, the Better Business Bureau’s South Dakota Region Vice President, gift cards are the most popular gift to be given or received for the last 14 years. She says that scammers prey on that popularity. A recent study conducted by the BBB showed a 50% uptick in reported gift card scams in 2023 compared to last year.
“They’re hard to police and once you’ve given that identifying information on the back, the barcode and the numbers associated with it, that money is gone and almost impossible to get back,” Schmidt explained.
Schmidt said that people should raise their guard if they get a sense that they could be getting scammed.
“If anybody is demanding payment via a gift card, that should be a red flag and your spidey senses should go up,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to tell you if there’s any indication at all that something doesn’t feel right, dig in a little bit more. Go find the number of the company that’s supposedly calling you or the government organization independently from what perhaps they sent you via text or could be a phishing email.”
Contrary to popular beliefs or stereotypes, Schmidt said that the age group of individuals 18 to 34 years old are actually victims of fraud at a higher rate than any other age range.
“There’s so much good information out there that we would not want anybody to fall victim to this really popular scam,” said Schmidt. “Scammers are sophisticated and so it doesn’t take long before you’re ensnared in something and you’ve lost money you don’t have to lose this holiday season.”
Other than gift card scams, Schmidt said that when shopping for presents this gift-giving season to be aware of any deal that seems too good to be true, especially on a social media ad. One good practice is to look on the websites of the company that sells the product you are interested in, not a secondary site.
“Don’t be ensnared into social media that is hawking the latest and greatest things that you want,” warned Schmidt. “If it’s slashed at a price that’s half or two-thirds of what it should be, you should be maybe raising the stink eye at that and doing a little bit more investigation.”
Lastly, it’s always a safe bet to shop locally.
“There’s no better time to shop small and our local businesses, they really need our support,” Schmidt said. “Foot traffic has been light in these businesses and so whether you do curbside pickup or things that you typically order online, try and find them locally.”
The Better Business Bureau encourages shoppers to report scams to them at bbb.org/scamtracker regardless of whether they are a victim of a scam or an attempted victim. The gathering of scam reports helps the BBB have more accurate data and information to share with the public. Another place the BBB suggests shoppers report scams to is the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
Copyright 2023 KSFY. All rights reserved.