The Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is teaming up with the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance (AFMA) to launch a consumer fraud awareness program inside hundreds of neighborhood stores to combat gift card scams. Every year, consumers lose millions of dollars in scams involving gift cards and/or reloadable cards.
Approximately 990 local grocery and convenience stores within AFMA now have warning signs at gift card displays to prompt customers to stop and think about why they’re buying the gift card and remind them gift cards can never be used to pay a government agency. Participating stores include Albertsons, Safeway, AJ’s Fine Foods, Bashas’, Food City, Circle K, and Los Altos Ranch Markets.
“I am proud to work alongside AFMA and hundreds of stores to protect Arizonans from scammers,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “This program is a great example of the government partnering with the private sector to prevent consumer fraud.”
“The Attorney General’s Office should be thanked for all they do to keep everyone safe in Arizona,” said AFMA President Mark Miller. “Their job gets more difficult every year as more criminals use technology to steal and deceive the citizens of Arizona. We are hopeful the signs make Arizonans stop and think before they purchase a gift card at the request of a scammer.”
There are many different variations of gift card scams, but one of the most common involves government imposters. Oftentimes, fraudsters call and claim to be from a government agency and ask you to pay off your debt/balance with gift cards. If the debt is not paid immediately, the scammer threatens to arrest you or drop your government benefits or services. A government agency will not request payment in the form of gift cards. Since January 2019, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has received more than 230 consumer complaints related to gift card scams.
In November, the AGO partnered with CVS Pharmacy to display the stop signs within their Arizona stores, as well. These awareness programs were handled by Civil Litigation Division Chief Counsel Joseph Sciarrotta, Consumer Protection Unit Chief Counsel Matthew du Mee and Senior Litigation Counsel Mitchell Allee.
If you paid a scammer with a gift card, file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. The matter also may be referred to criminal law enforcement for handling. You may also contact the AGO at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the metro areas at (800) 352-8431. Bilingual consumer protection staff is available to assist.