Identified Scam:

Amazon Gift Card Scams: Stay Safe, Never Pay Via Gift Cards

If anyone asks for payment via Amazon gift cards, it's likely a scam, especially if it's someone claiming to be from a government agency.


Verified.org
Updated 12 July 2021
Amazon Gift Card Scams: Stay Safe, Never Pay Via Gift Cards
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Identified Scam:

Key Finding

Scammers impersonate legitimate buyers for your item, government, and other business representatives or relatives requesting payment via Amazon gift cards. 


Key Risk

Once you hand over the gift card number and PIN, the scammer will use the card balance immediately, and you will lose the money you paid for it.

Sections on this page
  1. What Are Amazon Gift Card Scams?
  2. How to Beat and Avoid Amazon Gift Card Scams
  3. Examples of Amazon Gift Card Scams
  4. What to Do if You’ve Fallen for an Amazon Gift Card Scam
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Anytime someone asks you for payment via an Amazon gift card, it should signal to you that you're the target of a scam. If you offer to give them cash or pay for something via credit card and they still refuse, you can be sure they're trying to steal your money.

What Are Amazon Gift Card Scams?

Amazon gift card scams can come from people offering services over the phone or online or from those pretending to be friends or relatives in need of help. Regardless of the source, any time someone asks you to pay for something with an Amazon gift card, they can spend your card’s balance without giving you anything in return.

Here's how the scam works.

You’re Asked to Pay for Something or Give Money Using an Amazon Gift Card

Because Amazon gift cards are so easy to pick up at various stores, scammers will present them as a convenient payment option. Sometimes, the scammer’s demand comes in the form of an online listing, where an Amazon gift card is the preferred payment option. In other cases, they may even offer a discount if you pay with an Amazon gift card.

In some cases, scammers will impersonate a business or government representative, demanding payment for a service or an unpaid balance via an Amazon gift card. 

Example of a Scammer Impersonating a Relative

Hi son, how are you? I hope you're well. I hope you can do me a favor as soon as possible. I need to get Amazon Gift Cards today as I'm out of money and need some help just to cover some shopping for the next two weeks. Can you please pick these up for me and I'll reimburse you once I get paid. 

Thank you so much. I've been having a hard time keeping up with my bills but I should be fine in a few weeks. If you could just help me out with these gift cards today I would be so grateful.

Scammers Use a Sense of Urgency or Threats

The scammer may offer a significant discount on an item, or they may say if you don’t purchase the service, you or something you value may be in danger. For example, they could offer to get dangerous viruses off your computer for what seems like a reasonable fee.

The scammer may also pretend to be a relative or friend in dire need of urgent help. Then, they urge you to provide your Amazon gift card claim code so they can use it to buy a product or service that will fix their dilemma.

You Buy the Amazon Gift Card

After hearing the scammer out, you buy the gift card. All Amazon gift card scams hinge on the provision of the claim code on the back of the card. The scammer may ask you to read it to them or type it into an email or text message.

If you offer to send the gift card to them, they will refuse and push you to provide them with the gift card number and PIN.

Your Gift Card Balance is Used, You Get Nothing in Return

As soon as the scammer has your redemption code, they will use it to buy something, often immediately. They can also resell it to someone else online for a discount. For example, they could offer to sell a $100 gift card to someone for $60, claiming they have no use for the card. In reality, they will just be giving them your claim code.

Regardless of what the scammer does with your gift card balance, they will profit off your gift card purchase, and you won’t receive anything in return.

How to Beat and Avoid Amazon Gift Card Scams

You may think you wouldn’t fall for one of these scams, but it can happen. Scammers know just what to say or who to pretend to be to get you to fall for Amazon gift card scams. These individuals aim to take advantage of your fear, generosity, or desire to help others.

How to Beat Amazon Gift Card Scams

To beat these scams, follow these tips:

  • Beware of anyone who requests payment via Amazon gift cards: Amazon gift cards are for gifts, not payments. No legitimate transaction or sale will require payment with an Amazon gift card.
  • Only use Amazon gift cards to pay for Amazon items: Never use an Amazon gift card unless you’re paying for something on Amazon.com or at an Amazon store. When you make a purchase using an Amazon gift card on Amazon.com, you first redeem the value of the card to your Amazon account. You can then buy things from anyone on Amazon—or at an Amazon store—safely.
  • Never give your gift card code to anyone you don’t know or trust: While you may want to help a friend or relative purchase something on Amazon using your gift card number, be sure you know and trust the person you’re giving the information to. Otherwise, they’re probably trying to scam you.

Gift card scams aren't limited to Amazon gift cards. Many scammers will request gift cards from other retailers, including Walmart, Apple, and Target. Any request for gift cards instead of a legitimate form of payment should be considered a scam.

Signs of Amazon Gift Card Scams to Watch Out For

When you know what to look out for, it’s pretty easy to spot Amazon gift card scams. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Someone outside of Amazon asks you to pay with an Amazon gift card.
  • You’re offered a great deal on a product or service, but the seller requires you to use an Amazon gift card as payment.
  • You get a call, text, or email from someone that claims to know you, and they ask for your Amazon gift card claim number to help them purchase something.
  • A seller or someone asking for money pressures you to make the purchase or help them out with an Amazon gift card.
  • You get a call, text, or email from a charitable organization that claims to accept Amazon gift cards as payment.
  • An email or text asking for payment Amazon gift card has significant grammatical or spelling errors.

Examples of Amazon Gift Card Scams

Scammers can hack into people's emails to make you fall for the Amazon gift card scam. If someone you know asks you to buy them gift cards, always proceed with caution. Always call them to check that the email did, in fact, come from them.

In the following example, the scammer is trying to create a sense of urgency and appeal to their target’s common human decency by asking for a gift for their niece. They also use doctor’s orders to stay inside to explain why they can’t get the Amazon gift card themselves.

Example of an Amazon gift card scam.
Be suspicious of anyone requesting Amazon gift cards instead of money. Scammers can hack into emails to impersonate someone you know. (Source: Which?)

Scammers will also send you text messages, pretending to be someone you know. In the example below, they are pretending to be a pastor, relying on the victim's good nature to buy them Amazon gift cards.

Example of an Amazon gift card scam text.
Scammers can also contact you via text, pretending to be someone you know. (Source: Archdiocese of Miami)

What to Do if You’ve Fallen for an Amazon Gift Card Scam

If you’ve fallen victim to an Amazon gift card scam, take the following steps as soon as you’re able:

  • Contact Amazon to cancel the gift card and report the scam
  • Report the scam to the authorities

Contact Amazon

You can reach out to Amazon’s Customer Protection Review team by visiting their customer service page. You must either sign in to your account or sign up for one to report the scam and get help.

If you contact Amazon soon enough, before the scammer spends the balance on your card, Amazon can prevent the thief from using your card.

Contact Details

Amazon



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Report the Scam to the Authorities

Any issue involving fraudulent or unfair business dealings falls under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) jurisdiction. You can submit a complaint:

  • Online
  • By calling 1-877-FTC-HELP
  • Writing to the FTC at:
    Federal Trade Commission
    CRC-240
    Washington, D.C. 20580

If you think the scammer is from another country, report it to econsumer.gov. Filing a report can help authorities fight Amazon gift card scams and other kinds of fraud.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Amazon gift cards scams?

Amazon gift cards themselves are not scams. They are legitimate gift cards that can be used to buy products on Amazon.com.

What does a scammer need to redeem an Amazon gift card?

All a scammer needs to redeem an Amazon gift card is the claim code found on the back of the card (underneath the protective coating you'll need to scratch or peel off). 

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