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CFO Jimmy Patronis Consumer Alert: Beware of Holiday Gift Card Scams

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As Florida families are finishing their holiday shopping, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns of an increase in gift card scams. Gift cards are a convenient way to give a gift but they have also become a scammer’s favorite way to steal money.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Gift card spending is expected to reach $29.9 billion this holiday season and reports say gift card scams have increased 270 percent since 2015. Criminals pose as family members, friends, or even tax collectors demanding payment immediately over the phone or online via gift cards. If someone demands you pay them with a gift card, it’s often fraud.”
Use these tips to protect yourself from gift card scams:

• Verify any suspicious calls from family or friends demanding cash or gift cards. Hang up and call them or another family member to see what’s happening. Even if the person who contacted you told you not to.
• Don’t wire money, send a check, overnight a money order, pay with a gift card or cash reload card to anyone who demands payment in these ways. This is always, always, always a scammer. These payment methods are like giving cash — and nearly untraceable, unless you act immediately.
• If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money (wire transfer service, bank, gift card company, or cash reload card company) and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible.
• If you paid a scammer with a gift card, report it as soon as possible. Call the card company and tell them the gift card was used in a scam.
• Report gift card scams to the Federal Trade Commission at Your reports may help law enforcement agencies launch investigations that could stop imposters and other fraudsters from scamming someone else.
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