The 12 Scams of Christmas: #5
Christmas is a time of giving, of spending time with loved ones, and of celebrating the birth of Christ. This Christmas season, make sure you can focus on the true meaning of Christmas by avoiding scams. Follow along with our 12 Scams of Christmas series to learn more about the most common scams encountered around the holidays and make sure to use browser protection to avoid holiday scams occurring online.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Five Free Gift Cards
While we would all love to get something for free, unless the gift card is being offered directly from the issuer, these deals are rarely real.
How Free Gift Card Scams Work
Prospective victims see an advertisement on social media for a free gift card, often in amounts up to $200. Some have even reached the $1,000 range. To redeem the free gift card, victims are asked to complete a survey or provide personal information, along with a handling fee of $1 to $5.
After providing the information, victims discover unwanted charges on their accounts for subscriptions, warranties, and other products they never wanted or authorized. What they don’t receive is the free gift card that was advertised. The scam artist’s goal is to get the personal financial information of their victims and sell it to thieves. These thieves then steal the victim’s identity or make unauthorized purchases using the stolen financial information.
How Can I Avoid Free Gift Card Scams
- This scam only works if a victim chooses to participate. If you see a post advertising a free gift card, and that advertisement isn’t coming directly from the card issuer, chances are that it isn’t legitimate.
- Use browser protection. As you browse social media, any time you click on a malicious link containing a free gift card scam or another type of scam, your browser protection program will block the website before you have a chance to fall victim to the scam.
- Safeguard your social security number, date of birth, and other private information. There is no reason a company needs this information to provide you with a gift card.
- Look for indications on the advertisement that the offer is bogus. Many scams include misspelled words and bad grammar.
- Use a data breach monitoring service so you’ll know immediately if your information was leaked on the dark web for thieves to steal your identity. Taking action immediately can help you avoid the headaches and financial effects of identity theft.