Stretch your Dollar: How gift cards play a part in a common phone scam

Stretch Your Dollar

Protecting your loved ones and their money: scams are taking shape in Connecticut that has cost residents millions of dollars already. We are stretching your dollar with one of the most common scams.

For more than a year, we’ve been living in a heightened state of fear and insecurity amid a global pandemic. And sadly, scammers have taken notice and are striking while the iron is hot.

“Just in Connecticut, we saw 18,000 scams reported for a loss of $24 million. That’s a 75% increase over 2019,” said Kathy Stokes, Director of Fraud Prevention Programs with AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

She says one big scam becoming more prevalent has to do with buying gift cards.

“They may tell you the only way to solve the problem they say you have is to buy an electronic voucher. Go down to the store. Put $10,000 on a Google Play card. Leave the store, flip that card and give me the number off the back, and your problem is solved. Quite often, people don’t realize after that, that it was a scam, so it goes unreported because it wasn’t recognized as a scam.”

The request usually comes as you are experiencing some kind of heightened emotional state. Whether it’s fear, excitement or even love in some long-con scams. But it’s easy to avoid; Just remember this:

“Anytime that somebody asks you to pay some obligation with a gift card, it is a scam, 100% of the time.”

Immediately hang up if this happens to you, and report it so it can be tracked and hopefully stopped before someone else falls victim.

If you believe you were a victim of a scam or want to learn more, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network at 877-908-3360.

You can also report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.

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