Banks and government agencies will never request gift cards or prepaid cards in payment of a debt or bill.

How the scam works

You receive a phone message or email from a criminal who is posing as a bank or government agency. The message says you have an overdue balance or outstanding debt and demands payment in gift cards.

Very often these emails or voice messages use threatening and aggressive language to frighten and bully you into paying the phony debt.

Sometimes the criminal might pose as a bank investigator and will ask you to purchase gift cards as part of an investigation of fraudulent activity on your bank account.

Don’t get scammed

Your bank will never demand gift cards of any kind in payment of an overdue bill or debt.

How to protect yourself

Banks take extensive steps to protect your personal information entrusted to them and to help you protect it as well.

Fraudulent e-mails and voicemail messages sent by criminals may look and sound like they come from banks or retailers, but they are scams and should be reported to the company being spoofed and deleted. To report a fraudulent email, be sure to send the email as an attachment.