Walmart Cracks Down On Scam Gift Cards

Posted by Richard on June 9, 2022

In recent weeks, Walmart has cracked down on gift card scams, working with the Department of Justice to return money to the folks ripped off. Even with these efforts, fraud remains rampant and gift cards in particular are a serious risk.

Walmart took a proactive approach, notifying authorities of suspicious transactions and leveraging a “victim-assisted consumer fraud program” that the company claims is unique among retailers. Federal officials lauded Walmart’s moves as “impressive.”
Often, fraudsters will pretend to be an authority, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the police or a hospital. They convince people that they owe the IRS money and might “threaten” to throw someone in jail. Or scammers could pretend to be a hospital administrator, claiming that a loved one will die if the victim doesn’t pay up. To make payment, you’re supposed to send gift cards.

Unfortunately, some folks fall for high-pressure tactics. Scammers frequently target the most vulnerable among us, including the elderly. Often, the fraudsters will look up names of relatives, such as a grandchild, making their lies sound real.

So why specifically gift cards? They are hard to track and there are fewer protections for people who buy them. Once paid for, it’s hard to get the money back and difficult to cancel the gift cards. With banks and credit cards, it’s often possible to reverse payments. Once scammers have the gift cards in hand, they may sell them for cash, usually at a discount, or they can buy products online.

So what can you do? It’s smart to show the elderly stories like this one. Demonstrating other
people getting ripped off raises awareness. Also, anytime anyone is asking someone to pay in gift cards, it’s a massive red flag.