Voice of the consumer: Scammers and gift cards

Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here. COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – I hope all of you had a wonderful and safe holiday with your families. If you’re like me, I’m sure many of […]

Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – I hope all of you had a wonderful and safe holiday with your families. If you’re like me, I’m sure many of you gave or received gift cards. The experts at AARP ElderWatch have a few reminders to make sure you get the most out of that money.

Most importantly, try to use the gift cards as soon as possible, and make sure you only use them for yourself or people you know. Oftentimes, scammers will try to get people to give them money via gift cards. If someone you don’t know asks you to buy gift cards and give them the numbers on the card – that’s a red flag.

“Scammers love the form of the gift card because it’s very hard to trace, and it’s very hard to get the money back,” said Mark Fetterhoff, the program manager for AARP’s ElderWatch. “So only be buying gift cards for your friends and family.”

When you’re buying gift cards, make sure to inspect the back of the card for any signs of tampering. If there’s an option to buy gift cards behind the checkout counter, go for those. When you give gift cards, make sure to include a receipt. That way, if there’s something wrong with the card, the transaction can be traced.

If you get a gift card that doesn’t have any money on it, Fetterhoff recommends calling the phone number on the back of the card. You should also contact the store where the gift card was purchased.

“There isn’t a guarantee that you’re going to receive your money back, but some retailers might be willing to work with you,” he said.

As we head into 2021, AARP ElderWatch wants to make sure people’s good intentions aren’t taken advantage of.

“We have been hearing lots of scams related to certain types of diets,” Fetterhoff said.

If you’re planning to start a new diet program, do your research. AARP ElderWatch says you need to know exactly what you’re signing up for.

“Oftentimes you are missing out on some fine print as part of signing up for a program like this, and you didn’t realize that they might be charging you for months and months and months when you think you’re just paying an initial upfront fee,” Fetterhoff said.

He also suggests looking up the company through the Better Business Bureau and reading online reviews from other people who have tried the diet program.

I also wanted to let you know that our last Fraud Friday segment will air this Friday on KKTV 11 News at 4. I’ve enjoyed working with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and AARP ElderWatch to help people in southern Colorado recognize and report scams, so they don’t lose money.

Remember, you can always report scams, fraud and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The consumer hotline number is 800-222-4444.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

Copyright 2020 KKTV. All rights reserved.

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