Skip nav to main content.
Pearl Hawaii Credit Union
Android GET - On the App Store
Pearl Hawaii Credit Union
Apple GET - On the App Store

What Is A Gift Card Scam?

Gift card scams may start with a call, text, email, or social media message. Someone will then ask you to buy a gift card and request that you give them the numbers off the back of the card. It’s a gift card scam.  Scammers will say almost anything to get you to buy gift cards and hand over the card number and PIN codes.








  • They may say they are from a government agency like the IRS, Medicare, Medicaid, or the Social Security Administration. They may even show up on caller ID as that agency.


  • They may state that they know someone that you know who has an emergency and even provide a name you know.


  • They may have an emergency and need the money immediately.


  • The scammer may state they are from tech support or your internet provider, that you have won a prize, from your phone or electric company, or your financial institution.


  • The criminal may say they are on the social media platform you are using and need money to continue your service.


  • It could be someone that you met online who developed a romantic relationship or friendship with you.


  • The scammers may send you a check for more than you expected. They tell you to deposit the check and give them the difference on a gift card. The check will bounce.


  • It’s Urgent. They will say something terrible will happen.
  • They Tell You Where to Go. They might say to buy cards at several stores or a specific store.
  • They Don’t Want You to Hang Up. The scammer also may stay on the phone with you while you go to the store and load money onto the card.
  • Fraudsters Will Ask for The Number And PIN. Don’t give them those numbers or send them a photo of the card.



  • Contact the company where you purchased the gift card. Let them know of the fraud and ask for your money back. You may not be able to get your money back, but it does not hurt to try. Some companies are helping stop gift card scams.
  • If you purchased the gift cards with a credit card, report it to their fraud department right away. They may be able to assist in getting your money back.
  • Inform the Federal Trade Commission at



  • Whenever you buy gift cards, buy from only stores you trust.
  • Avoid purchasing gift cards from an online auction site, through online marketplaces, or through someone you do not know. Typically, these gift cards are fake or stolen.
  • Before you purchase any gift card, make sure that no one has tampered with the stickers or the silver scratch-off on the back of the card. If the PIN number is showing, let the staff at the store know.
  • Lastly, always keep the gift card and receipt or take a picture with your phone if you are purchasing it for someone else.


  • To learn more about identity theft fraud safety visit ID Theft Center.
  • If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site to learn more.
  • If you believe your Social Security Number is being used fraudulently contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.
  • It’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report each year from each credit-reporting agency. You can get a free credit report yearly from the Annual Credit Report website at or by calling 1-877-322-8228 where you will go through a simple verification process over the phone. It is important that you obtain and review a copy of your credit report once a year to make sure your information is accurate.
  • For financial literacy, check out  Upgrade| our blog or our financial education page.


What Is Identity Theft? 

Guard Against Multi-Factor Authentication Scams

Beware of Romance Scams

What is Financial Elder Abuse? Understanding Financial Exploitation 

Improve Account Security With Transaction Alerts

Your Account Security & Regulation E

Protecting Yourself From Social Media Scams

The Art of Social Engineering

Protecting Yourself From Online Crime | Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing 

Online Security For Your Accounts

Pearl Wallet | Protect You And Your Cards


Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud

FTC: Privacy, Identity & Online Security

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Scams Targeting Taxpayers

Tips for Safe Gift Card Use: Retail Gift Card Association

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

The Department of Justice

Identity Theft (FBI)

IRS Identity Theft-Related Guidance

Identity Theft Resource Center | 1-888-400-5530


From home or car loans to Hawaii’s most innovative banking services, Pearl Hawaii is committed to you. Bank at any of our Oahu locations in Waipahu, Ewa Beach, Waianae, Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, or near the Airport. Additionally, you can bank using PHFCUOnline just like one of our branches. To contact us, call us at 808.737.4328, toll-free at 800.987.5583, or email us at