You may think of a gift card as a perfect and convenient way send a present to a loved one, but more and more criminals view it as a perfect medium to steal your money.

Whether masquerading as police officers, Canada Revenue agents, tech-support personnel, or even stranded grandchildren, scammers will often attempt to get victims to buy gift cards and transfer the code numbers or PINs to them.

Gift cards are popular with fraudsters because they are anonymous and basically untraceable. They operate like digital cash and are easy to convert to cash, merchandise or even cryptocurrency.

One of the most common gift card frauds looks like this: A caller will contact you with some sort of emergency (you owe money, there’s an arrest warrant, your grandchild is in trouble). They tell you to go to a store, or a string of stores and buy a popular gift card such as ITunes, Google Play, or Amazon. You are then instructed to call them back and give them the card number and PIN on the back of the card. Once you’ve done that, they have immediate access the money you loaded onto the card and the scammer and your money are gone- often without a trace.

So, how can you protect yourself from this type of scam?

The easiest way is to remember: Gift cards are for gifts, NOT payments, says Cpl Jocelyn Noseworthy of the Kelowna RCMP. Anyone who is trying to demand payment via gift card is a scammer.

For more information on common scams and frauds, as well as tips to protect yourself, please see the following link: antifraudcentre