This week, Action Fraud have launched a campaign urging the public to #StayTunedToFraud, as recent published figures show that £6.5 million has been lost to gift card fraud.
Fraudsters contact victims, usually the elderly and vulnerable, purporting to be from organisations such as HMRC. They frighten victims into paying non-existent debts with iTunes cards, which can be bought at most local retailers. Fraudsters are using online store gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on. The fraudsters don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and will instead use tactics to persuade victims to purchase gift cards in large amounts and read out the serial code on the back over the phone.
More recently, fraudsters are requesting Steam Cards as a way of gaining upfront payment.
We have done some work with local retailers to raise awareness and make sure that cashiers remain vigilant if somebody is buying a large quantity of vouchers under suspicious circumstances, but we still have a long way to go. Just recently in Leicestershire, an elderly woman was tricked into buying £2000 of iTunes vouchers, which she successfully managed to do in one transaction without challenge.
How to protect yourself from gift card fraudsters:
- Gift cards, including App Store and iTunes gift cards can only be used to purchase goods and services from the retailer named on the card. Never provide the numbers on the back of iTunes Gift Cards to someone you don't know.
- No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher. If you’re contacted by anyone that asks you to do this, you’re very likely the target of a scam.
- Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Even if someone knows your basic details (such as your name and address), it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
- Genuine banks or other trusted organisations won't pressure you to make a financial transaction on the spot. If something feels wrong then it’s usually right to question it.
- If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
PCSO Ranjit Sonigra