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Protect Yourself from Gift Card Scams this Holiday Season

Fraudsters are looking to take advantage of all the extra purchasing activity over the holidays. Gift cards are popular targets for scammers and with the holiday season upon us, its likely scammers will ramp up their deceitful activity even more. And, according to, there has been an increase in complaints surrounding scams involving payment via Google Play gift cards. To help you protect yourself from scams involving gift cards read below on how to spot the warning signs of common gift card scam scenarios.

  1. IRS and Government Imposter
    In this set-up, a scammer will call claiming to be the IRS, police or another form of official government authority and will likely claim you owe them money for back taxes or other legal fees. If the caller threatens you with arrest or suspension of driver’s license in an effort to scare and bully you into purchasing gift cards to resolve any issues, it’s a scam. Government entities will never require payment with gift cards to resolve tax or other legal situations. Hang up the phone.

  2. Tech Support Sham
    You may get an email from a fraudster disguised as a computer software company wanting to help protect you from harmful viruses or fix a program you use. The email may contain a virus that causes issues with your computer. When you call to inquire about their services they ask for payment upfront stating that your computer has been comprised along with your credit cards. Because of this claim, they will ask for payment by gift card.

  3. Phony Family Emergency
    A caller will reach you claiming to be a representative, such as a lawyer, for a family member in trouble and needs to be paid for their services in the form of gift cards to resolve the emergency situation. The caller will likely try to deter you from contacting the family member or claim the family member cannot come to the phone because they are incarcerated. Don’t believe them. 

When it comes to Google Play gift cards, the most important thing to know is that these gift cards can only be used for purchase such as apps, movies, books, video games or other purchase through the Google Play store. The bottom line is that any time you are asked to pay someone with a Google Play gift card in exchange for goods or services, it’s a scam. Additionally, you should never provide specific account information such as a debit card number to any caller over the phone.

If you or a family member has experienced a scam, consider the following actions:

  • Immediately report it to your local police department to bring awareness and help prevent the fraudsters from performing the same scam in the future.

  • Contact Great Western Bank immediately (1.800.952.2043) and monitor any accounts that may have been compromised.

  • Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.

  • Refer to the Fraud Protection Page on Great Western Bank’s website for more detailed information on protecting yourself this holiday season and throughout the year.

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