May 24, 2021

Gift Card Fraud- What You Need to Know

Written by: Michael Quigley Fraud Manager, Northern Bank

If someone is asking you to pay by gift card, it’s a scam.

The simplest way to protect yourself from fraud is to be aware. Recently during the pandemic, there’s been an increase in scammers making fake calls asking consumers to make payments with gift cards. Gifts cards are not to be used to pay the IRS, social security, tech support, a family member in trouble, a member of the military, ransom, to avoid arrest or deportation, or to keep your utilities on. Anyone asking you to do so is a scammer.

Primary Types of Gift Card Fraud

Gift Card Fraud increased by 74% during the pandemic. During 2020, there was an estimated 45.9 billion robocalls to consumers – about a 50% increase since 2017. 1

What you can do

If you receive one of these fake calls requesting payment by gift card, the best way to handle it is:

  • Hang up immediately.
  • Report it to the FTC here.
  • Use our Card Controls in the NBTC app to limit where and when your debit card can be used
  • As always, feel free to reach out to the NBTC Fraud Department with any questions or to get advice ( We’re here to help.

If you did pay a scammer with a gift card:

  • Tell the company that issued the card right away. Let them know the gift card was used in a scam.
  • Ask them if money is still on the card, and if they can refund your money.
  • If you act quickly enough, the company might be able to get your money back. Be aware that some companies will not return any money even if the gift card hasn't been used.
  • Remember to keep the gift card itself and keep the gift card receipt.
  • Also, tell the store where you bought the gift card as soon as possible.

Gift card fraud can easily be avoided if you take these precautions to protect yourself and stay aware. Stay tuned for our next round of fraud prevention tips.


Written by
Michael Quigley
Fraud Manager, Northern Bank

Michael Quigley is an experienced Fraud Manager with a demonstrated history of working within the Financial Crime industry as well as a Private Investigator. At Northern, Michael has played an integral role in developing a robust fraud detection and prevention plan for the Bank. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree focused on Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, a certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS), Chairperson of a local fraud group, and an active member of several local, national, and international Financial Crime groups.

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Northern Bank is a full service bank dedicated to providing practical, common sense financial solutions to help our customers’ lives and businesses grow. From deposit products to loans to payment and collections services, we work hands on with our entrepreneurial customers, both locally and across the country, to provide the financial support they need to realize their personal and business goals. Founded in 1960, Northern Bank has assets of $2 billion with 12 locations serving communities throughout Middlesex County. Northern Bank is a Member of the FDIC, an Equal Housing Lender, and consistently ranked among the best performing community banks in New England.

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