Tips to Stay Safe When Shopping Online for the Holidays: Beware of Gift Card Requests from ‘Your Boss’

Holiday Tip #3 – In this Season of Giving, Don’t Give the Criminals Your Money

With so many companies celebrating the season with festive holiday parties, it’s easy to get caught up in this gift card trap set up by ne’er do well criminals out there. Here is how this scam works:

You receive an urgent email from your boss asking you to purchase gift cards from brick and mortar stores like Target, Best Buy or Walmart or online at Google Play or Amazon. Being the season of giving, it’s not unreasonable to think that your boss might want your help in securing gift cards. But here’s the catch: it’s most likely not your boss making the request; it’s a thief looking to rob your company.

Scammers use a tactic called email spoofing to make an email appear to come from someone you know and trust – like your boss or the CFO. The emails appear to be legitimate so it’s easy to understand how employees can be fooled.

After you purchase the cards, you’re then instructed to provide the numbers and PINs from the back of the cards. This is all the criminal needs to steal the cash on those cards. Once a credit card has been purchased, the funds are stuck on that card and are untraceable. They’re as good as cash, only much more easily transferred.

So what should you do? First of all, you need to be suspicious of any email – no matter who it’s from – asking you to purchase gift cards and then provide the codes and PIN numbers. Second, call your boss or the person making the request to verify.

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