WASHINGTON (WJLA) — There is one thing you can do to help protect against a gift card scam that’s so convincing, it recently duped 7News On Your Side’s Call For Action President.
Shirley Rooker admits she was busy when she received an email from a friend.
She knew he was traveling and the email claimed he was having problems getting his credit card to work as he attempted to purchase an Amazon gift card for a friend’s birthday. Wanting to help, Shirley jumped into action and sent details for a $100 Amazon gift card.
“I just looked at it, I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve got to do it,” she said.
The scammer soon wrote back, asking she send another $100 Amazon gift card.
“I was getting ready to go out, I was kind of in a hurry and I didn’t pay much attention, I’ve got to admit it, and so I sent the second email,” she said.
Shortly after that, she realized the request was a bit strange. She quickly picked up the phone and called her friend who informed her his email had been hacked.
“Here I am, a consumer advocate sitting on the TV and telling people this is what you should and shouldn’t do. I didn’t do any of the good things,” she said.
The one thing people can do to help protect them against these types of scams is by picking up the phone and calling the person requesting money or gift cards.
We have a generous spirit, we want to help our friends. But before you do, make sure that you’re actually helping your friends and not some crook laughing all the way to the bank,” she said.
Within an hour, Shirley said she called Amazon to see if they could disable the gift cards and refund her money — but it was too late.
Amazon tells 7 On Your Side’s Lindsey Mastis the best course of action is to call your credit card company or bank immediately. They will then report the fraud to Amazon with a request to revoke the gift cards. If the balance hasn’t already been spent, a victim could get their money back.
In Shirley’s case, the funds were spent almost immediately on a digital purchase. Law enforcement can also be contacted. Amazon will provide investigators with additional information about fraudulent transactions which could help lead them to scammers.
This is just one of many scams involving Amazon gift cards. Here are other common Amazon Gift Card Scams.
Amazon released the following statement to 7News:
“We will continue to invest in protecting customers and educating the public on scam avoidance. We encourage customers to report suspected scams to us so that we can protect their accounts and refer bad actors to law enforcement to help keep consumers safe. Be wary of false urgency. Scammers may try to create a sense of urgency to persuade you to do what they’re asking. Be wary any time someone tries to convince you to act now, especially if their call or email is unexpected. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you know personally, you can always contact the sender by phone to verify that the email is legitimate before taking action.”
To submit a complaint with Call for Action, go here.