The Better Business Bureau is warning people of a sizable increase in gift card scams. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Better Business Bureau is warning people of a sizable increase in gift card scams. (Black Press Media file photo)

Gift card scam losses nearly tripled over last three years: Better Business Bureau

Consumers over 65 most likely to lose money

If you’re being asked to make a payment by gift card you are almost certainly being scammed, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding people.

In a recent investigative study, the organization – spanning Canada, the U.S. and Mexico – found that losses from gift card scams nearly tripled from $1,179,563 in 2017 to $2,953,174 in 2020. The numbers reflect an increasing number of scammers cashing in on gift card popularity, especially during pandemic times.

“Gift cards don’t carry the same protections as credit or debit cards, so funds spent on gift cards are funds you cannot get back,” said Rosalind Scott, president and CEO of the BBB Vancouver Island.

READ ALSO: Victoria man out $6,000 in latest gift card phone scam

In 2020, the median gift card loss reported to the BBB was $700, with the majority of victims being 65 or older. Typically, during a gift card scam, the fraudster will impersonate a government agency, business associate, tech support employee, romantic interest or seller to convince the target to buy a gift card and either read the numbers on the back of it or send a photo. To convince the victim, scammers may say the government has entered a new contract with a gift card company or may promise to reimburse them.

The Canada Anti-Fraud Centre received 2,702 gift card scam complaints in 2020, up from 2,301 in 2019 and 2,098 in 2018. According to the BBB, the most commonly requested gift cards include eBay, Google Play, Target, iTunes, Amazon and Steam, an online gaming company.

READ ALSO: Victoria senior cheated of $3,000 in gift card scam

There are two main red flags the BBB says people should watch out for, including government agencies requesting payment, statements that buying gift cards is a safe way to make a payment. It also suggests people keep receipts from buying gift cards and inspect the card for any tampering before purchasing. Some scammers, the BBB said, will open the card and record the numbers on the back before they are purchased so once they are activated the scammers have access to it.

Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam can contact the issuer of the card, local police, the BBB, the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre or the Canadian Financial Consumer Agency.

READ ALSO: Sidney business owner warns of power-disconnection scam


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Greater VictoriaScams

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay Police Department briefs for May 3 to 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Copper wire stolen after Oak Bay construction site targeted twice by thieves

Cop briefs include pair of impounded cars, swiped back medication

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

Colwood council voted to give businesses less of a cut than planned and will look for more cuts this week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood council gets back to work after voting against 9.3% property tax hike

Emergency meetings this week will find more cuts, finalize tax plan by Friday deadline

A man was arrested after allegedly threatening people downtown on May 10 while brandishing this knife. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Man armed with a knife arrested for allegedly threatening people in downtown Victoria

Officers used de-escalation techniques during afternoon arrest

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Most Read