San Francisco (CBS SF) — According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing $148 million in gift card scams in the first nine months of 2021. 

CNET’s Ian Sherr described for CBSN Bay Area how these scams can sometimes be even worse than identity theft.

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“Often times, there are no consumer protections. Retailers do not have a legal obligation to help people deal with whatever happens,” he said. “As a result, a lot of people have to bare this financial burden on their own versus credit cards and a lot of other places, that when you have identity theft, will protect you.”

Sherr also said the law that applies to unauthorized purchases on a credit card does not apply to gift cards.

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“If you have someone who you hand over a gift card to and they lie to you about what they want or who there are, there’s no way to get that money back,” he said.

After listening to hours of these scam calls, Sherr said there are some similarities he noticed in most of them.

“One of the things that is consistent is that they always ask for the payments in gift cards and there is no legitimate business who will ever ask you to pay for anything with a gift card,” he said. “So if that’s the one thing you take away from me, if someone calls you and asks you to pay with gift cards, hang up.”

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According to recent studies, Sherr said Millennials and Gen Z are falling for these scams even more now. Where as before, they were known to target the elderly for the most part.