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A sure-fire way to spot a phone scam

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Scammers are trying to trick people into purchasing and paying them with gift cards.

Oct. 12, 2020

When someone calls you on the phone, it's not always easy to tell if they're a con artist pretending to be with a government agency, your bank or credit card company.

These imposters can be mighty convincing. They'll say something like this:

"I'm with the IRS and if you don't pay right now with a gift card, you're going to be arrested."

"I'm calling from the courthouse and you owe a fine. You need to go out, buy a gift card, and pay it right now, or else."

Notice a pattern here? They want that payment with a gift card.

"Anyone who demands payment with a gift card is a scammer, full stop," said fraud expert Adam Levin, author of the book Swiped. "Scammers love to use gift cards to steal your money because it's cash, it's instant, it's not traceable, and you're never going to get it back."

Before you listen to the call and run to the store to buy gifts cards, think about what you're being asked to do and why it's so ridiculous.

"Why would the Internal Revenue Service ask for your payment on an iTunes card? Why would your utility company ask for your payment on a Sephora gift card? The answer is: They wouldn't, and you shouldn't," Levin said.

More Info: Paying Scammers with Gift Cards