Have you ever gotten a phone call, or an email, requesting information from you that you question?
If someone calls you on the phone and asks you for personal information, or money for that matter, you should definitely have questions. A recent string of gift card scams involve the caller pretending to be someone that you do business with, such as a utility company, debt collector, or hospital, and requesting that you make your payment using gift cards.
We’ve put together some simple ways for our customers to identify scams, and how to protect yourself to ensure that you are speaking with the correct person.
No business or government agency will ever call you and request payment using a gift card. This scam appears to be happening with Apple iTunes and Store gift cards, where the caller will request that you buy the codes and send them as your payment. The caller expresses urgency and leaves the consumer scared and confused. Here’s how to protect yourself if you receive a call that you might suspect is a scam.
- Hang up the phone and call the company back at the customer service phone number listed directly on your monthly bill (not on the caller ID). Explain to them that you received a call and give them as much information as you can, so that they can tell you if a representative from their company called you or not. They will have the records. If you try to end the call with the scammer, and they are insistent that you remain on the line, don’t be afraid to just cut them off and hang up. The most important thing is to protect yourself and your personal information.
- Do not ever give your personal or bank information over the phone unless you are positive that you are speaking with the company you do business with. One way to protect yourself in this situation is to ask them questions as well. Places that you do business with will have ways to verify that they are speaking with the correct individual. If you ever suspect you are speaking with someone that is trying to scam you, tell them that you need to go retrieve your information and will call them back. If they give you a phone number, call the corporate line and verify that the individual works there. You can never be too careful with your personal information.
- If you receive a pop-up on your cell phone, or a message on one of your social media accounts or via email that you suspect is a scam, never give out your information and never click on any of the links within the message. Always back out of the screen, or close it entirely. Report the message to your social media or email provider. Also, if you think you are being scammed online, don’t be afraid to go to snopes.com to verify if something is a scam, or visit the company’s website and do a search to see if they are aware and have more information about it.
Remember, none of the businesses that you pay will ask for your payment to be made with a gift card, especially one such as an iTunes gift card which can only be used at the Apple store. Protect your personal and bank information, and your identity by always questioning who you are speaking with on the phone and verifying facts online.
If you suspect that you are the target of a scam, please note that you should contact your local police department, or the Federal Trade Commission at https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov.