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Gift cards may be an especially popular gift this holiday season, thanks to a global supply chain disaster that’s making it tough to get a hold of electronics and other items, but they’re also a go-to vehicle for scammers.

There were about 35,000 fraud reports related to gift or reload cards in the first half of 2021, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). (A reload card is like a prepaid debit card that you can add money to for purchases.) This year is on track to be the worst year yet for gift card scams, Scam Spotter, a cybersecurity platform launched by Google and the nonprofit Cybercrime Support Network, said in a recent press release. Last year, the FTC reported that gift cards have been a top fraud payment method every year since 2018, with nearly 44,000 reports of gift and reload card fraud in 2020.

What does a gift card scam look like? A popular method is for a scammer to contact you, urgently asking for money and telling you to pay with gift cards. Maybe they say your relative is in jail, that you’ve been pre-approved for a loan or that you owe the government money. Then,…

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