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'Is this legitimate?': The question you should be asked in the check-out line when buying a gift card

Store clerks may be the first line of defense to stop gift card scams. Scammers trick folks into buying gift cards. The NC AG is hoping training will stop the scams.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A gift card is one of the most common presents out there. You can buy them everywhere, from the gas station to the grocery store. Most of the time, you're buying one, maybe two. But if you're buying eight, wow, something is going on. Sure, it could be the holidays or maybe...

“A common way for a scammer to get someone's money is by asking them to go a bunch of gift cards,” said NC Attorney General Josh Stein.

Whether it's a bunch of credit cards or one gift card, scammers call consumers and pretend to be a government agency or company and demand immediate payment with a gift card. The scared consumer goes to a store and buys the gift cards. By the time the consumer tells someone, the money is long gone & they're a victim of a crime.

Could the crime have been stopped here at the check-out?
Do the stores that sell the cards have any responsibility?

“If they are willingly turning a blind eye to a crime, there could be a legal liability, but at this point, at this point, we just want the big stores and all the clerks who work at their registers to know that could be their parent, their grandparent their loved one and ask the question, do you really want to be doing this?” said Stein.

The North Carolina Attorney General is now in talks with retail merchants and the Association of Retailers to train store clerks to be the first line of defense.

“In previous years we've seen them use money transmitters like Western Union and so we've done a lot of work with Western Union and bank tellers to educate them about what to look for so they can intervene and say, ‘Are you sure this is for a legitimate purpose?’.  I believe that kind of knowledge would benefit store clerks because that way they could look out for their customers,” said Stein.

But if no one asks you, ‘Is this legitimate?’, know this for sure, 

Anytime someone asks you to pay with a gift card, it is always a scam. 

    

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