Google Play card scams frequently target those who aren’t tech-savvy or have debt. These individuals typically receive debt collection calls or have their computers taken over by hackers demanding payment through gift cards.
If you’ve heard of incidents like these, this article’s for you. Here we’ll teach you what the Google Play gift card scam is, how it works, and what you can do to protect yourself from it.
We looked into the latest rounds of gift card scams to know what new tactics criminals use. We also reviewed real-life stories of people who got scammed and sought expert insights on how to avoid such crimes.
The last thing you want is to miss out on crucial red flags and keep your information at risk. Keep reading until the very end to find the most common mistake you must avoid so you don’t fall victim to gift card scams.
How does the Google Play gift card scam work?
It’s a question that’s been puzzling people for years: why would a scammer want a Google Play card?
How the scam works
The scam usually works like this: you receive a call or an email from someone claiming to be from Google. They say that there’s been some suspicious activity on your account, and they need to verify your identity.
To do this, they say that you need to buy a Google Play card and give them the code. They might even say that if you don’t do this, your account will be suspended.
Of course, this is all a lie. Once you buy the card and give them the code, they can use it to buy anything they want from the Google Play store. And there’s no way to get your money back.
This is the most common method that scammers use to scam people into giving them their Google Play gift cards. However, there are other methods that they do this, and we’ll talk about them more in the next sections.
Who the targets are
This type of scam is often aimed at seniors, people with debt, those who aren’t tech-savvy, or other vulnerable people.
That’s because scammers know that these groups are less likely to be familiar with how Google works and more likely to believe the lie.
But anyone can be a target. If you receive a call or email like this, don’t take the bait. Hang up or delete it right away.
What the scammers can do with gift cards
Once a scammer has your Google Play card code, they can use it to buy anything they want from the Google Play store. This includes apps, games, movies, TV shows, and more.
And since the codes are usually worth $25 or $50, they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
They can also convert Google Play cards to cash by transferring the balance to their bank account or selling them to others for cash.
5 most common Google Play gift card scams
There are a few different ways that scammers might try to get your Google Play card code. Here are some of the most common:
Someone posing as a tech support representative may contact you and tell you that there’s a problem with your account. They then say that the only way to fix the problem is to purchase a Google Play gift card and give them the redemption code.
Of course, there’s no actual problem with your account, and the person on the other end is just trying to get their hands on your money.
Criminals can also pose as representatives of a legitimate company and contact you via email, text message, or phone call.
They’ll claim that you owe money for taxes, debts, or other expenses and instruct you to pay using a Google Play gift card.
Once the victim provides the card number and PIN, the criminals have immediate access to the funds and can spend them anywhere.
In some cases, they might even ask you to provide your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number.
The scammer contacts you and pretends to be a family member or friend in need of money. They claim to have been in an accident or to have had some other emergency and ask you to send them a Google Play gift card as soon as possible.
Of course, worried, you oblige, not realizing that you will never receive the promised reimbursement. In reality, the scammer has just pocketed the value of the gift card.
Discounted goods or services
One common scam involves discounted goods or services if you pay with a Google Play gift card.
The scammer will often advertise something like a cheap iPhone or discounts on hotel rooms or rental cars.
When you try to purchase the item, they’ll say that you need to pay with a Google Play gift card. They may even give you a fake code to enter into the card.
Once you’ve paid, you’ll never receive the item you were promised, and the scammers will be long gone with your money.
This is where someone you know (or who pretends to be) contacts you via email and asks you to buy Google Play gift cards as part of a task or favor.
They’ll then ask you to email them the redemption codes from the cards.
Of course, once you’ve done this, they can redeem the codes and spend the money.
What should you do if you’ve fallen for this scam?
If you’ve given your Google Play card code to a scammer, there’s no way to get your money back. So it’s important to be aware of the dangers and know how to spot this scam before you become a victim.
If you think you might have been scammed, contact your local law enforcement agency and file a report. You should also contact Google Play support and let them know what happened.
And remember, if someone you don’t know asks for a Google Play gift card, it’s probably a scam. Don’t give them what they want. Hang up or delete the message and report it to the proper authorities.
How to Avoid Gift Card Scams
Here are a few tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
- Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for gift cards, especially if the request comes via email, text message, or over the phone.
- Don’t give out your gift card code to anyone you don’t know or trust.
- If someone you know asks you to buy a gift card as a favor, make sure you understand what it’s for and why they need it before you agree to anything.
- Research any businesses or individuals before giving them any money. Don’t take their word for it that they’re legitimate.
- Be wary of offers for discounted goods or services that require payment with a gift card. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Keep your gift card codes safe and secure, just like you would with any other sensitive information. Don’t write them down or share them with anyone else.
Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is that Google Play gift cards, like other gift cards, are used as, well, gifts. If anyone you don’t know asks you to pay them with a gift card, then it’s most likely a scam.
No government agency or financial institution will ask you to pay them with a gift card.
Google Play gift cards are a convenient way to buy apps, music, and other content from the Google Play Store. But they can also be used by scammers to steal your money.
If you’re ever asked to pay for something with a Google Play gift card, be very careful. It’s likely a scam. Don’t give out your code and report it to the authorities if you think you’ve been scammed.
By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim of this type of fraud.