The Better Business Bureau is warning cash-strapped consumers about a scam involving phony gas station gift cards. They aren't gift cards at all, but really just a way to get your credit card details and other personal information.
How the scam works
The BBB says the scam can originate several ways. Either via a social media post, email or even a survey that says you won a $500 gas station gift card. Right now the BBB says the scam claims specifically to be from Shell. But you should be on alert for scammers using other gas brands as well.
BBB says to get the gift card, you're told you only need to pay a small fee. But when scammers get your credit or debit card information, they will likely charge your account for amounts you never approved. One consumer told BBB Scam Tracker: “They said I won a Shell gas card and had to pay $1.95 for shipping. A day later, they took $89.95 out of my account. I called about the charge, and they fixed it, but the next day, another $89.95 was taken out again.”
It's not just about getting your credit card info. BBB says the scam may request other personal details. Some consumers say they were asked to fill out a form and provide their name, phone number, physical address, credit card information, and other details. Doing any of that is a big no-no as sharing those details could open you up to the nightmare of identity theft.
Here's how the BBB says you can avoid prize scams:
- Never pay to win. No legitimate company will ask you to pay money to receive something you won or to get a free gift. If someone asks you to pay even a small fee to receive a prize, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
- Do your research. Impostor scams are common, so if a large company seems to be offering you a free gift, do some research first. Visit the company’s official website (by typing it into your web browser, not by following a link someone sent you) to see if they really are participating in some kind of giveaway.
- Don’t act on impulse. Scammers are hoping you’ll get so excited about their offer that you won’t stop thinking about any suspicious details. Use your good judgment and question any offer that seems too good to be true.
For more information
Check out this article for examples of the scam and Shell's official statement. For more helpful tips, see the BBB Tip: Sweepstakes, Lottery, and Prize Scams and read this BBB tip about text message phishing scams.
If you notice a scam circulating on Facebook or elsewhere, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. The BBB says your report can help others recognize the danger.AlexLMX/Shutterstock.com