How to avoid rampant Apple gift card scams asking you to make payments over the phone

With Apple gift card scams on the rise, Apple is teaching us how to avoid scams that ask you to make payments for things like taxes and utility bills with an Apple gift card.

Marketing image showing off the various Apple gift cards
  • A typical gift card scam asks people to make payments with their Apple gift cards for things like taxes, hospital bills, bail money, debt collection and utility bills.
  • If you’re not buying an item from Apple, avoid providing the redemption code printed on the back of your gift card to anyone that you don’t know.
  • Once those redemption codes are provided to the scammers, Apple says the funds on the card will likely be spent before you can contact Apple or law enforcement.

Scams involving Apple gift cards scams are on the rise again

The fact that scammers increasingly demand payment by gift cards wasn’t lost on Apple. A new support document published on the Apple website and a video on Twitter highlight the issue and provide advice to help people avoid becoming a victim of such scams.

Regardless of the reason for payment, the scam follows a certain formula: The victim receives a call instilling panic and urgency to make a payment by purchasing Apple gift cards, App Store & iTunes gift cards or Apple Store gift cards from the nearest retailer (convenience store, electronics retailer, etc.). After the cards have been purchased, the victim is asked to pay by sharing the code(s) on the back of the card with the caller over the phone.

The support document also provides tips on avoiding scams involving Apple gift cards.

How to avoid Apple gift card scams

The most basic thing you can do to protect yourself is knowing how Apple gift cards work. Whether you’re using an Apple gift card, App Store & iTunes gift card or Apple Store gift card, you should never provide the number on your gift card to anyone.

These cards can only be used for purchases made in the Apple ecosystem—which includes Apple’s retail stores, iTunes Store, App Store and Apple Books, including Apple subscriptions like Apple Music, News+ or iCloud storage. “There’s no other instance in which you’ll be asked to make a payment with either of these gift cards,” the company notes. Read: Phishing emails: what they are and how to report them

If you believe you were the victim of a scam involving Apple gift cards, the company advises contacting your local police department and reporting fraud on the FTC website.