How to Avoid Gift Card Scams at Work
- Post by Karen Bartuccio
- April 25, 2019
It’s safe to say that most of us have purchased a gift card or two. They’re convenient and give the recipient the choice to use as they wish. They also provide a handy way for cybercriminals to steal money, which is why gift card scams are so common.
Gift cards were invented in 1994 by luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, though they did not advertise them. It wasn’t until Blockbuster displayed gift cards in their stores (due to their paper gift certificates being counterfeited) that the idea took off and swept retailers across the country.
Fast forward 25 years to 2019. With cards available from virtually every retailer, the popular gift card business has become a huge opportunity for email scammers. The risk happens year-round, not just at the holidays. Many scammers are targeting business emails to trick the recipient into sending gift cards to the attackers, even specifying a particular gift card brand (ex. iTunes). By the end of 2018, 25% of people who reported losing money to a scam lost it through gift cards, compared to 7% in 2015.
Gift card requests have replaced wire transfer demands in forms of payment to scammers. Why? They’re easy, quick and virtually non-traceable. Once the scammers receive the code from the back of the card, the money is gone as is any real chance of tracing the transaction. Unfortunately, you or your company may have lost a considerable amount of money in a matter of minutes.
Anyone can be a target. No business (or individual) is immune to these attacks. Small and large businesses, non-profit organizations and churches can all be victims of this scam. You may even receive them in your personal email. Cybercriminals are very good at impersonating trusted businesses, friends and even family.
Most email filters are very good at catching spam. However, filters can’t pick up all these types of attacks in part because they don’t contain any obvious malicious signals. For example, gift card scam emails don’t usually include attachments or risky links. They’re often sent from trusted email domains, to make the recipients feel comfortable making the purchase. So, it’s up to you.
Here’s the best way to avoid becoming a victim and save your money and time:
Gift card scams are here to stay, at least for now. Contact us if you would like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help keep your business safer.