1 in 3 adults targeted by gift card payment scams

“Zero value” gift cards are also common

The AARP Fraud Watch Network, in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak Omnibus Survey, surveyed 2,179 people ages 18 and older in January and February to gauge consumer experiences with two types of card fraud -gift: payment scams and “zero value” gift cards, where a consumer gives or receives a card that turns out to have no funds.

About a quarter of respondents said they had encountered the second type, which usually involves scammers tampering with cards on store shelves to get the numbers on the back, allowing them to drain the money consumers load onto them at the point of purchase.

While some zero-value episodes may be due to store errors or people forgetting they’ve ever used a card, “the fact that 1 in 4 consumers have ever given or received a zero-value card indicates activity criminal,” Stokes mentioned. The average loss in such cases was $140, according to the survey.

Eighty-four percent of those who received an empty gift card took action to try to resolve the issue, such as calling the phone number or visiting the website listed on the card or speaking to a manager. a store where they tried to exchange it, but more than half were told they couldn’t get a refund or credit.

Young adults are more targeted

The survey found an age disparity in gift card payment scams, with 39% of respondents aged 18-49 saying they were targeted compared to 28% of those over 50.

However, older people were more likely to want legislative action to combat fraud. Among respondents aged 50 and over, 69% said they “strongly agree” that lawmakers should do more to protect consumers, compared to 54% for the younger group.

AARP has called for tougher regulations and stronger law enforcement to crack down on scams, and for retailers, payment processors and card issuers to take action to prevent card losses. consumers, such as in-store interventions and more flexible refund policies.

According to the survey, about 1 in 4 consumers who bought gift cards to pay a supposed financial obligation were warned by a store employee that it might be a scam. Previous AARP research found that more than half of potential scam victims avoid losses when a third party intervenes.

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Elaine R. Knight