CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Federal investigators say fraud involving gift cards is surging, with tens of thousands of people already victimized.
Here's how it works:
Scammers email or call you, posing as a love interest, company representative or a government agent.
They say you owe money and must pay now, or you'll be arrested or have your bank accounts frozen.
The scammer then tells you to buy gift cards at a local store, then read the card number to the them over the phone.
"Gift cards are for gifts, they are not for making payments," said Maria Mayo, of the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Consumer Response and Operations. "If someone approaches a consumer saying that they need to make a payment using a gift card, it's a scam."
Experts say watch out for unsolicited calls or emails saying you owe money.
If you're told to buy gift cards and read back the numbers it's a scam.
The Social Security Department and the IRS will never call asking for personal information or money.