Oz Gift Card Scams Pocket $5M In 2018
Latest numbers from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reveals gift card-related scammers stole over $5 million in 2018 – a 38% year-on-year lift.
Of that, iTunes card scams netted $3.1 million, up a whopping 156% versus $1.23 million reported in 2017.
The ACCC has encouraged retailers to inform staff about the rise in gift card scams, and warn potentially affected customers.
“If staff are informed they can identify the warning signs of a scam when they notice a customer spending large amounts of money on gift cards,” asserts ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard.
Gift card related scams have continued to diversify, with reported incidents involving Google Play, Steam and Amazon cards, plus Australia Post Load & Go prepaid debit cards.
Non-iTunes gift card scams soared 530% in 2018 to around $1 million.
Rickard admits it’s concerning gift card scammers have expanded from iTunes cards, potentially prompted by public warnings.
“It’s clear the scammers are diversifying their payments to try get around these warnings, so it’s vital people are aware that no legitimate company or government agency will ever ask you to make a payment with any sort of gift card.”
“Scammers like to get gift cards as payment as it’s easy for them to quickly sell them on secondary markets and pocket the cash.”
According to the ACCC, two predominate gift card scams involve ‘ATO impersonation’ and ‘catch-a-hacker.’
The first informs the call recipient of an ATO warrant for their arrest, with an immediate fine to be paid via gift card.
The second impersonates a law enforcement officer, urging for assistance trying to nail the location of a hacker who has compromised the call recipient’s computer.
Surveys which seize personal data (e.g. bank details, date of birth and name) and offer gift cards as a prize are also among offenders.
“If anyone asks for payment using a gift card, it is a scam, simple as that,” affirms Ms Rickard.
She has encouraged affected consumers to report potential gift card scams as soon as possible.
Whilst it is difficult to retrieve the lost funds, Rickard states the sooner it’s reported “the better your chances.”
Further information is available on the ACCC’s website here.