Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Fraud's New Currency: Gift Cards as Payment

Gift card payment scams: A survey of U.S. adults 18+

Gift cards used as payment scams have cost U.S. consumers $245 million since 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission. To gauge awareness and incidence of gift card payment scams, AARP surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults. The survey found that one in 10 who were asked to purchase a gift card to pay a bill or make some other payment actually did so.

spinner image Providing Credit Card Info by Phone

First, the scammer tells the consumer they owe money for bills, taxes, or some other phony obligation. Next, the scammer instructs the consumer to buy a gift card, sometimes referred to as an “electronic voucher.” The scammer then asks for the information on the back of the card, which enables them to collect the card's prepaid value, leaving the defrauded consumer holding useless plastic.

Gift cards cannot be used to make payments of any kind, but unwary consumers, focused on the need to make a payment, may follow through with purchasing a card.

For information and resources from the AARP Fraud Watch Network on how gift cards are used in scams, visit


AARP commissioned the AmeriSpeak® Omnibus to survey 1,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey was fielded and administered February 12 and 13, 2021. 

For information about the survey, please contact Jennifer Sauer at or Kathy Stokes at For media inquiries, please contact Emily James at