Even though gas prices are starting to go down, they are still high year-over-year. Scammers are taking advantage of this by tempting drivers with phony gas station gift cards. It’s really a way to get your credit card details and other personal information. If gas prices are still draining your budget, don’t fall for this scam.

How the scam works

You see a post on social media, get an email, or take a survey that says you won a $500 gas station gift card. Currently, the scam claims to be from Shell, but watch out for scammers using different gas station brands too.

To get the gift card, 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.”

In addition to your credit card information, the scam may also 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. Sharing these details with scammers can open you up to identity theft.

How to avoid prize scams

  • Be very skeptical of any prize, grant, or gift card offers you see on social media!
  • 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.
  • Look for the blue checkmark. Many social media platforms verify pages from brands and celebrities so that users can tell real pages from copycats. Make sure you look for that trust mark before liking and sharing content. 
  • Watch out for new accounts: If you think a giveaway is real, click on the business or celebrity’s profile. If it’s a new account with very little other content, that’s a big red flag.
  • Look out for spelling errors and typos: Real brands use giveaways to promote their company. Spelling errors and typos will make them look bad! They are a big warning signs of a scam.
  • The giveaway asks you to complete too many tasks: If a giveaway asks you to comment on multiple posts, follow several accounts, and tag a couple of brands, it becomes almost impossible to keep track of everyone participating and pick a winner at random (as required by law).
  • There are no terms and conditionsOnline giveaways should include contact details of the organizer, how to take part, how the winner will be selected, and eligibility requirements. If you don’t see information, that’s an instant red flag.
  • Don’t click “like” on every post in your feed. Scammers are counting on getting as many mindless likes as possible, so be sure you only “like” posts and articles that are legitimate. Don’t help scammers spread their con.
  • 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.

Source: BBB.org

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org.