• 72°

Better Business Bureau warns of gift card scams

The tactics of con artists change just as frequently as technology does. This is why the Better Business Bureau is now warning new customers of what they are calling the latest holiday scam.

Scammers come out in full force during the holidays because of the record-breaking use of gift cards across the country. In the past, scammers would ask victims to wire them money, but now a gift card replaces the money wiring.

“Any way you slice it, it’s using cash to get value in another direction to get to somebody. That’s what the con artists love,” a representative with the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky explained.

The amount of money sent to scammers through gift cards has skyrocketed in the past few years.

“Technology makes things easier for us. It makes things easier for the con artist,” Heather Clary with the BBB said.

The Better Business Bureau has received complaints from consumers saying a government grant was promised to them, and they had to buy a gift card to claim the grant. Many times, scammers will call and claim you owe the government money, but then they want you to pay with gift cards like Amazon, iTunes or Google Play.

Once a victim does this, the scammers then take the gift card number, use the money to buy things and then resell them. They will go to serious lengths to make you fall victim to the scam.

“I think that sometimes people just don’t realize, especially if it’s somebody using a scare tactic like these people pretending to be government agencies, whose heart doesn’t jump into their throat when they hear IRS or Medicare say, ‘I’ve got to pay this to get my new card.’ People get frightened and they’re going to take whatever steps they have to protect themselves, especially if something like their government benefits is attached to it.”

The BBB generally advises never to pay people with gift cards.