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  • Writer's pictureHolly Glowaty

No Joke: April Fool's Day Fraud Attempt

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Gift Card fraud is always a hot topic, there are a million ways in which people are scammed or targeted.

We are getting to that time of year when people will see an uptick in phone calls and texts from the “IRS” telling us we are going to be arrested or fined for overdue taxes etc…and none of us are immune!

During the Flourish Conference our very own Erika Frey received this fraud attempt on her cell phone:

She initially questioned it for a few reasons:

“We had all been working together in a conference room so things were really busy. I didn’t understand why Kristen would use her full name. That combined with the overall tone of the text and timing of it made me question its authenticity. Once I reread it and noticed the wrong area code I knew it was fake” Erika said.

When we realized it wasn’t we started to dissect what was going on and tried to have a little fun with the fraudster

The highly targeted nature of the opening text is what initially caught our eye. As you read through the messages it’s easy to see how people can get caught in scams like this. For most outside of our industry, no one would think twice about scanning off the information and sending it in a text.

The fraudster ultimately got tired of our questions and attempts to draw out the interaction and just stopped replying.

We all agree that consumer education is a vital element of reducing fraud like this, but whose responsibility is it to provide that education?

It’s all of ours.

When consumers have a negative experience with branded currency, it hurts the overall industry. We have a responsibility to not only ensure branded currency programs are set up with strong anti-fraud systems but that we also clearly communicate best practices for consumers to protect themselves.

Recently, some retailers began communicating ways to avoid getting scammed by these types of fraud.

During the 2018 holiday season, Best Buy released a PSA about IRS scams consumers are able to easily share. Additionally, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart all have specific pages with information about avoiding gift card fraud on their websites. These are all great steps to inform the consumer but require and additional level of work. Alternative communication channels can include in-store and even on-card or on-packaging messaging can help inform and protect consumers and strengthen the industry.

Ultimately, informing consumers about gift card fraud is a delicate balance between educating and keeping the purchase process fun and easy. Fraud is an ongoing discussion and one often addressed on the Flourish in a Flash podcast. Be sure to tune-in and subscribe to stay up to date on the continuing conversation as new trends and insights arise.

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