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Payment by gift card? It’s a scam!

Gift cards are popular and convenient … and not just for gifts. Con artists have latched onto gift cards as a convenient form of payment in their scams. In a 2021 AARP survey, nearly 1 in 3 adults said they or someone they know had been asked at some point to purchase a gift card to pay a bill, fee or some other debt or obligation or to claim a prize.

man talking on a mobile phone and holding a gift card with text that says asking to be paid by gift card is always a scam always say no

Signs to watch for

1. You’re directed to buy one or more gift cards — often referred to as “electronic vouchers” — as a quick means of making payment.

2. You’re told to share the numbers on the back of the gift cards, by reading them off or sending a picture.

3. The request comes from someone you wouldn’t expect to ask for money this way:


How to Protect Yourself

Gifts Cards Are for Gifts — Not Criminals

AARP survey finds some deceived into buying cards for strangers


How AARP Can Help

Knowledge gives you power over scams. The AARP Fraud Watch Network equips you with reliable, up-to-date insights, and our free fraud Helpline is available to help you and loved ones if you need it. We also advocate at the state, federal, and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws. With AARP as your partner, you’ll be better equipped to stay ahead of scammers.

Call Our Helpline

Get the information you need to protect yourself

Report a Scam

See scams in your area or report a gift card scam

Watchdog Alerts

Keep up with scams involving gift card payments

Common Scams Involving Gift Card Payments


True Stories of Gift Card Scams

Romance Scammers Ask for Google Play Cards

Heartbroken 55-year-old unknowingly helped launder ill-gotten gains

Fraudsters Rip Off Retiree for $35,000 in Gift Cards

To scammers, gift cards are good as gold, hard to trace and hard to replace

Fraudsters Pose as Clergy, Ask People for Gift Cards

Impostors prey on the faithful for funds — and keep the loot

Grandparents Deceived by Scammers Demanding Cash

'Grandchild in jail' scheme costs Americans millions

How a Family Battled Their Mother's Fake Relationships

Romance scammers asked for money in gift cards

Heard on the Helpline

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