+
upworthy
Pop Culture

Prefer to buy gift cards as Christmas presents? You should be aware of this holiday scam.

Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to gift card Grinches. Here's how to avoid being holiday hoodwinked.

gift card scam, gift card scam awareness, gift card fro christmas, discounted gift cards
Canva

Watch out for gift card grinches this holiday season

Once upon a time, gift cards were seen as lazy, impersonal choices for Christmas presents. But nowadays, mindsets have shifted. In today’s more practically-focused, convenience-driven world, gift cards reign supreme. After all, when finances are tight, a free $20-$100 always offers the bonus gift of relief. It’s really no surprise that 29% of celebrators say they would actually prefer to receive gift cards or physical gifts according to Civic Science.


However, there are a few greedy Grinches out there ruining the gift card purchasing experience with multiple styles of scams. This kind of naughty behavior is so prevalent that since 2022, 73 million Americans have become unsuspecting targets

.


Over on TikTok, just type in hashtags like #GiftCardScam and #GiftCardScamAwareness, and you’ll find countless people sharing their own horror stories of being duped over what should have been a stress-free purchase.

One particular method used by scammers, as explained in a PSA below, is stealing cards in bulk, carefully opening the card envelope without damaging it, cutting off the tops of the cards with the vital information on it, then carefully placing the cut up card back into the envelope and resealing it.

The perp then returns the envelopes back to the store, and once an unsuspecting shopper purchases the gift card, they drain it for all its worth.

@quantum.healer PSA | Gift Card Scam Alert Please take note of the gift card scam that is alarming and is increasing this holiday season. #psa #fyp #fypviral #christmas #holidayseason #giftcardscams #bediligent #educationalpurposes #hawaiitiktok #hawaiitiktokers ♬ original sound - Suzy Aledo

To avoid being bamboozled, shoppers are encouraged to feel for the entire card inside the envelope, or ask the store to remove the cards from their envelope at checkout.

Scammers can also might put a fake barcode on top of the card, or simply scratch off the barcode, after they’ve recorded it of course. That’s why it’s vital to check a gift card thoroughly before walking out of the store with it.

Of course, occasionally cashiers are the ones doing the gift card swaps, so it pays to keep a watchful eye.

More often than not though, gift card scams happen over the phone or online. A few examples below:

An imposter calls pretending to be from a well known company or government agency claiming you owe money, and—of course—that the only way to pay them is with gift cards.

This is just a huge NO. Even if whoever is on the other line can somehow whip up personal information (which they procured on the dark web) no actual company would only take payment in the form of gift cards.

@abc7newsbayarea Gift cards are only for gifting! Scammers love using gift cards to steal your money and will try to trick you into buying them. 7 On Your Side’s Scam School has another lesson on what to look out for. #giftcards #giftcardscams #imposter #scam #scam? #scams #scamcalls #fraud #7onyourside #scamschool #abc7scamschool #news #fyp #foryoupage #abc7news ♬ original sound - ABC7 News

“Charity” campaigns on social media seemingly raising fund fora good cause, and accepting gift cards as payment.

Aura.com suggests using sites like CharityNavigator.org ,The Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance andCharityWatch.org to check for any charity’s legitimacy. But if they’re asking for gift cards, it’s a dead giveaway they are not.

Fake websites for checking gift card balance.

This one is particularly sneaky, as almost everyone has the need to check their gift card’s remaining balance at some point. Your safest bet is to call the number on the back of your card to check the balance.

Fake profiles on dating sites that ask for gift cards as romantic gestures—a trip to see you, help with an emergency, etc. etc.

It’s a good general rule of thumb to never send any kid of money to a person you haven’t met. And to be aware of catfishing.

@sandyleenelson #duet with @Lori Fullbright #safetytip #fyp #foryoupage #scam #money #giftcardscams #London #Nigeria #notlove #dontfallforit #lie #liar #widow #onlinedating #Canada ♬ original sound - Lori Fullbright

An “accidental” refund that requires to to pay back in gift cards.

This happened to a woman in Wisconsin June 2022—she received an email from Amazon alerting her to a “fraud” on her account. When she called the phones number listed, the supposed Amazon rep “accidentally” refunded her $10,000 and told her she had to pay it back in gift cards. Sadly she didn’t realize it was a scam until she had lost $11,500.

If a rep “accidentally” sends you a refund, that’s a red flag. And if they suddenly need it to be paid back in gift cards, that red flag turns bright crimson.

One last tip regarding this, from Aura: Avoid installing remote access software, such as AnyDesk or TeamViewer, since these are the tools scammers use to manipulate your screen and make it look like they’ve refunded you too much money.

A random text from a family member in “urgent” need of help.

It’s best to trust your instincts here. If a message doesn’t quite sound like your loved one, it probably isn’t them. But rather someone who hacked their email or phone number.

Fake text messages from a boss or colleague in need of, you guessed it, “urgent” help.

Usually when this happens, the fake boss or colleague will ask that you send photo of the cards with the card number and PIN easily visible. But bottom line:no boss should be asking their employees to purchase gift cards. That’s just weird.

@ktsarna I tried my best… #fakeboss #scammers #scamtext #giftcardscams #boredathome ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Getting a notification that you’ve won a sweepstakes that you never entered, and that you have to pay certain fees with gift cards.

In this case—the “winner” is the loser. Basically, you can’t win sweepstakes you haven’t even entered. So if you get a notification saying otherwise, someone is trying to hoodwink you.

Discounted gift cards being sold on platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

Look, it’s no surprise that these online selling sites are pretty much the Wild Wild West. And when you’re in a lawless territories with very little projections, a good rule of thumb to live by is : if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

In this scenario, a three-way call to an automated line will be initiated between you, the seller and the marchant to “prove” the balance is on the card. But as you type in the card number and PIN, the scammers are able to reverse engineer that information using the key tones. Crazy, right?

There are, however, legitimate discounted gift card selling sites like CardCash or ClipKard if you’re looking to save, without being scammed.

No one deserves to have their holiday season ruined by a Scrooge. Hopefully this information helps make your Christmas shopping a little safer.

Where is the third dog in this photo?

Optical illusions are wild. The way our brains perceive what our eyes see can be way off base, even when we're sure about what we're seeing.

Plenty of famous optical illusions have been created purposefully, from the Ames window that appears to be moving back and forth when it's actually rotating 360 degrees to the spiral image that makes Van Gogh's "Starry Night" look like it's moving.

But sometimes optical illusions happen by accident. Those ones are even more fun because we know they aren't a result of someone trying to trick our brains. Our brains do the tricking all by themselves.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Woman's rare antique turned away from 'Antique Roadshow' for beautiful heart-wrenching reason

"I just love you for bringing it in and thank you so much for making me so sad."

Photos by Murat Rahim Caglak and Antoni Shkraba via Canva

Woman's antique turned away from 'Antique Roadshow'

People come by things in all sorts of ways. Sometimes you find something while at a garage sale and sometimes it's because a family member passed away and it was left to them. After coming into possession of the item, the owner may be tempted to see how much it's worth so it can be documented for insurance purposes or sold.

On a recent episode of BBC One's Antique Roadshow, a woman brought an ivory bracelet to be appraised. Interestingly enough, the expert didn't meet this rare find with excitement, but appeared somber. The antique expert, Ronnie Archer-Morgan carefully explains the purpose of the bracelet in what appears to be a tense emotional exchange.

There would be no appraisal of this antique ivory bracelet adorned with beautiful script around the circumference. Archer-Morgan gives a brief disclaimer that he and the Antique Roadshow disapprove of the trade of ivory, though that was not his reason for refusing the ivory bangle.

Keep ReadingShow less

How often should you wash your jeans?

Social media has become a fertile breeding ground for conversations about hygiene. Whether it’s celebrities bragging about how little their family bathes or battles over how often people should wash their sheets or bras.

One of the debates that gets the most diverse responses is how often people wash their denim jeans.

Denim atelier Benjamin Talley Smith tells Today that jeans should be washed "as little as possible, if at all.” Laundry expert Patric Richardson adds they should be cleaned “after nine or 10 wearings, like to me, that is the ideal." At that point, they probably have stains and are "a little sweaty by that point, so you need to wash 'em," Richardson says.

Still, some people wash and dry them after every wear while others will hand wash and never hang dry. With all these significant differences of opinion, there must be a correct answer somewhere, right?

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

The amount of money Americans budgeted for food 100 years ago is mind-boggling

If we think our grocery bills are high now, it's nothing compared to what families spent in the early 1900s.

Even if we shop at the most expensive stores, we still don't spend as much of our income on food as they did in 1901.

As inflation following the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in the summer of 2022, Americans keenly felt it at the grocery check-out. It seemed as if prices had gone up on everything, and our food budgets took a hit. Even though inflation has eased since then, many of us are still lamenting the amount we're spending on groceries and dining out every month.

A New York Post headline ominously pronounced in February 2024 that "Americans have not spent this much of their incomes on food since the Gulf War," citing a federal statistic that U.S.consumers spent 11.3% of their disposable income on food—a higher percentage than we've seen in the past 30 years.

But as they say, it's all relative. While we balk at spending 11% of our income on food, families in the early 1900s would have been thrilled at spending that little on food.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Matt Damon shared the wildest story about his rescued 'jungle cat' from Costa Rica

"At no point in this story did I have any idea what would happen next," one viewer wrote.

@colbertlateshow/TikTok, Canva

The cat distribution system reaches even the depth of the jungle.

The cat distribution system always works. Even for celebrities. Just ask Matt Damon.

While appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the “Jason Bourne” actor shared the wildest story about a stray cat he had adopted 10 years ago during a month-long stay at an Airbnb in Costa Rica.

After hearing him describe this next level kitty, you’ll understand why he describes him as “the coolest cat you’ve ever seen.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

‘Against their beliefs’: Parents won't let daughter go to boy’s Taylor Swift birthday party

“Like what religion is out here saying, ‘Thou shalt not listen to Taylor Swift?’”

via Jolene Dolo (used with permission)

Popular TikTokker Jolene Dolo.

A TikTok video by the mother of a gender non-conforming son is a masterclass in refusing to be baited into a confrontation, no matter how tempting it may be. It all started when TikTokker Jolene Dolo’s 8-year-old son, Sam, sent out invitations to his Taylor Swift-themed birthday party.

Jolene told Upworthy that Sam doesn’t have a favorite Swift song, but his favorite album is “Lovers.”

“My 8-year-old Sam is having a Taylor Swift birthday party, and yesterday I received a text message from a parent of a child who was invited letting us know that their child will not be attending because it is against their beliefs,” Jolene began.

“I'm not exactly sure what belief system you have, like what religion is out here saying, ‘Thou shalt not listen to Taylor Swift?’” she continued.

Keep ReadingShow less