Scammers know that invoking the name of well-known businesses and organizations makes their scams seem more legitimate.  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued an alert that their good name is now being used in a fake gift card scam.  The only “gift” involved in this scam is the “gift” of personal information unwary consumers will give the thieves.

Here’s how it works.  The email comes to the consumer  addressed in the consumer’s first name (“Dear John”).   The email’s signed with the first name of a fake customer service representation. The email message then says:

  1. BBB has issued a $1000.00 Visa gift card to the consumer;
  2. The gift card is free of charge;
  3. There is a “valid until” date by which the consumer has to claim the card;
  4. The consumer needs to go to the link in the email to provide the needed information;
  5. At the link, the consumer is told he or she has to provide  the following information to get the card: name, age, email address, cell phone number and the address to which the consumer wants the gift card mailed.

BBB is the latest organization whose name has been used for this scam.  Similar gift card scams have been run falsely claiming that Best Buy, or Wal-Mart or Target is the business issuing the free gift cards.

The email has the feel of a legitimate offer since it’s addressed using the consumer’s first name.  This scam is sent from a variety of email addresses and contains different links but the message used for the scams is always some variation of the above points.

This is another example of “if it’s too good to be true, then it isn’t true.”  The BBB alert can be found at consumertips@council.bbb.org (“New Gift Card Spam Emails Use BBB Name”).