Gift card scammers are really stepping up their game. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 40,000 people reported losing a whopping $148 million in gift cards to scammers during the first nine months of 2021.

In fact, gift cards are the most common payment method demanded by scammers. The FTC says crooks especially favor Target, Google, Apple, eBay, and Walmart cards.

These crooks will claim they need gift cards to do everything from bail a loved one out of jail, pay off a fine, or fix your infected computer. Sometimes, they’ll claim to be a government agency or financial institution and claim that the only way to unfreeze a bank account or your Social Security information is to buy a gift card.

Gift cards are virtually untraceable and once they’ve been redeemed, the money is gone for good. Know this, anyone who asks you for gift cards to pay for anything is scamming you. Gift cards are strictly for giving as gifts to friends. Anyone that tells you to pay for fines, taxes, legal services, or anything else with them is pulling something. Do not trust them. Immediately call the police.

As always, be vigilant.