Take heed: gift card scams

  • Published
  • By Charles Laedlein
  • Air Force Judge Advocate, communications and special law division
While Airmen may be better educated than the average citizen when it comes to detecting attempts to obtain personal information by means of phishing and bogus e-mails, the criminal community remains hard at work, devising improved methods to pry sensitive personal information from people.

One of the latest criminal wrinkles involves "spoofing," or trying to gain unauthorized access to network search engines by enabling criminals to pass themselves off as representatives of official sites.

The scam involves enticing a victim into use of a link which appears related to a known company, but in fact leads the person to a false site unrelated to any major brand. Once there, the visitor is invited to register for a free gift card. The objective is to lure the victim into providing personal information in the registration form which may be used for many purposes -- none of them beneficial to the individual.

In most cases, the victim never receives the gift card or spends more money qualifying for a supposed high value gift card, which is usually of lower value.

When Airmen are presented with offers appearing to be too good to be true, the best advice is to treat the claims as exactly that. Network pop-up ads which ask for personal and financial information should be treated with extreme skepticism and independently verified by contacting the company in question at its published telephone or network address.