WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly one in three adults say they or someone they know has been asked to purchase a gift card to pay a bill or some other obligation, according to the Gift Card Payment Scams report released by the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
The research is a component of a three-year effort launched to raise awareness of gift card use as payment in scams, a common method employed by criminals to steal money.
The report found an alarming one-in-10 respondents acknowledged they bought a gift card after being asked by someone to pay a bill, another financial obligation or a fee to win a prize.
Gift cards as a form of payment are common across a wide range of impostor scams, but a quarter of U.S. adults report having paid by gift card to claim a large prize, sweepstakes or lottery. Scammers also coerced adults to buy gift cards to settle an issue with their Social Security account, pay upfront for a service or product, to fix a computer or to pay a utility bill.
Other survey findings:
• Adults younger than 50 are more likely than adults over 50 to say they or someone they know have been directed to pay for an obligation using gift cards.
• Most respondents who bought gift cards as requested said they purchased them at big box retailers like Walmart or Target and at pharmacy chain stores like CVS or Walgreens.
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