Scammers stop at little to take money from victims, often using consumers’ financial anxieties to lure them in. A flurry of recent reports shows that fraudsters are looking to cash in on consumers’ latest worry: high gas prices.
Specifically, criminals are posting ads on social media and elsewhere promising fuel gift cards — loaded with hundreds of dollars. To get the card, the potential victim just has to fill out a form and pay a small fee. The advertisements use popular oil corporations’ names and branding to seem like legitimate offerings from Shell, ExxonMobil and others.
These fake gift cards are often presented under the guise of a survey, loyalty program or sweepstakes from one of these gas companies. Some of the posts have even presented the gift cards as a gift to customers from the company in order to help individuals defray rising gasoline costs.
In reality, by filling out the form, the consumer is providing their personal and financial information to the fraudsters, only to receive nothing in return. Scammers are able to use this information to commit identity fraud or even drain the victim’s bank account. It’s also possible that they’ll request the consumer pay a fee for the delivery of the “gift card” or another bogus reason. To be clear, no oil company is distributing gift cards worth hundreds of dollars via social media accounts named “Gas Today Credit” or similar aliases.
What to do if you see offers for $500 fuel gift cards, or similar claims:
- Check for verified accounts. While these scams may appear convincing, they almost always appear from non-official sources. These may be unverified social media accounts or copycat web sites that contain misspellings in the URL. Verified company social media accounts will have a blue checkmark or other similar indicators next to their names to indicate authenticity. While a blue check mark isn’t a 100% guarantee of authenticity, looking for it can help to weed out advertisements from non-official accounts.
- Don’t provide personal information to requests originating from social media. If the survey, loyalty program, or sweepstakes is genuine, it should appear on an official web site for the company. If the company isn’t promoting the survey or sweepstakes on their official web site, there’s a high likelihood that the ad you’re seeing is a scam.
- Gas companies do not give away hundreds of dollars worth of fuel in exchange for filling out a survey. Beware of any claim to offer valuable fuel in exchange for personal information.
- Sweepstakes don’t require a purchase in order to enter. If you’re being asked to pay a fee in order to obtain a “free” fuel gift cards (or any other prize, for that matter), it is almost certainly a scam.
Be an ally in the fight against fraud!
If you suspect that you or someone you know has become a victim of one of these scams or any other fraud, don’t just delete the message — report it at once to the social media platform. You can file a complaint at Fraud.org via our online complaint form. We’ll share your complaint with our network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who can investigate and help put fraudsters behind bars. -- In Fraud Alerts