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Officials Warn Of Increase In Gift Card Scams

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Gift cards are a popular present, but they're also an easy way for criminals to steal money.

The federal government is seeing a rising number of cases where scam artists convince victims to pay them off in gift cards.

Whether it's a con artist impersonating an IRS agent or a tech support scammer looking for payment to fix your computer, fraudsters are turning to gift cards to get your money.

Report Gift Cards Used in a Scam | Federal Trade Commission by FTCvideos on YouTube

"Anyone who tells you to pay with a gift card is a scammer and once you shared the gift card number and pin, your money is probably gone," the Federal Trade Commission warns in a new video.

The FTC is warning consumers that more con artists are demanding this type of payment, often asking for iTunes, Google Pay or Amazon gift cards, which can be found in countless stores.

"Gift cards are great for con artists for 3 reasons. First of all it's almost impossible for a consumer to reverse the transaction," Vaca said. "It's quick, it's very quick for the con artist and third it let's the con artist remain anonymous."

Vaca says in 2015, consumers lost $20 million in scams where gift card payments were involved.

In just the first nine months of this year, that number ballooned to $53 million.

"So if someone calls you up and demands that you pay iwth a gift card - hang up - that is a scam," Vaca said.

If you have paid with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away: The FTC says in some cases, you may be able to reverse the payment.

For more information, click here.

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