Gift cards are a convenient way for scammers to steal money from you. Many different kinds of imposters ask you to pay with gift cards, and they all have an urgent need for you to send money right away. The callers will often tell you to go buy a popular gift card (like, iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon) at a particular store near you (like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, or CVS). They may even have you buy several cards at several stores. Sometimes, the callers will stay on the phone with you while you go to the store. Once you buy the card, the callers then will demand the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let the scammers immediately get the money you loaded onto the card and then disappear, usually without a trace.

That’s because gift cards are like cash: if you buy a gift card and someone uses it, you probably cannot get your money back. Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer. That’s a sure sign of a scam. Every time.

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, tell the company that issued the card right away. When you contact the company, tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Ask them if they can refund your money. If you act quickly enough, the company might be able to get your money back. Also, tell the store where you bought the gift card as soon as possible.

Check out this video to learn more about scammers and gift cards: