The 5 Top iTunes Gift Card Scams of 2020 (and How to Avoid Them)

Learn how to spot these top iTunes scams

iTunes gift cards, although they come with their perks, are easy methods for scammers to receive your money and/or personal information. Unfortunately, once the deed is done, the crime isn't easily traced back to the scammer. Here are the top iTunes gift card scams you should look out for.

of 05

The Free iTunes Gift Card Scam

A conceptual illustrations of an iTunes Gift Card scammer.

 Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Everyone enjoys winning something for free, yet this scam is one of the oldest tricks in the book. A scammer will start by creating a social media ad or fake website advertising that you've won a free iTunes gift card.

The scammer may ask you to provide personal details in order to claim your prize, such as your phone number, address, or even bank account information. Or, the scammer may ask you to pay a fee to claim your gift card.

Unfortunately, if you follow through, the scammer will take hold of your personal information, cash, or both and you won't receive anything in return.

How to avoid this scam: If it looks too good to be true, believe it. Never give out your bank account information online and remember it's illegal for companies to require you to pay to claim a true prize.

of 05

The Mysterious Phone Call Scam

Photo of receipt showing purchased iTunes gift cards

WOOD TV 8 News


Perhaps one of the most common gift card scams involves you, your phone and a tactful scammer. These phone call scams, sometimes called vishing or voice phishing, vary, but they typically involve a scammer portraying someone else such as:

  • The IRS
  • Tech support
  • A family member or friend
  • A bank

Scammers may explain they're with the IRS and you're behind on taxes. Or, they may purposely lock your computer, give you a phone number to call, and pose as tech support demanding payment for fixing your desktop.

More commonly, the scammer will pose as a family member, friend, or someone representing someone you know. They'll explain how they're in trouble and need monetary assistance in the form of iTunes gift cards.

After you purchase them, the scammer will ask you to read the digits and codes from the back, gaining access to the funds.

How to avoid this scam: Don't answer phone calls from numbers you don't recognize. If they claim to be a government agency such as the IRS, call the IRS hotline to confirm. Don't give payment information out over the phone to anyone.

of 05

The Investment Email Scam

An email is open that reads Urgent Business Proposal

Just One Film/Getty Images 

The Investment email scam, also known as the Nigerian Prince email scam, has been capturing victims for many years. Scammers will send you an email supposedly from an individual who claims to be royalty or someone of high stature. They'll explain they have access to an investment opportunity and will give you the chance to take a share.

The catch is you'll need to pay a fee or an advance in the form of cash to reach your funds. Unfortunately, these same types of emails float around for iTunes gift cards and cards from other companies. It all depends on what the scammer wants.

How to avoid this scam: Never open emails from senders you don't know. Don't believe anyone who asks for payment via gift card prior to receiving cash or anything else.

of 05

The Stolen Card Number Scam

A woman is purchasing a gift card from a retailer

Cali9/Getty Images 

Some iTunes gift card scams occur when unsuspecting victims purchase gift cards in-store. In this scam, a scammer removes a gift card from the in-store display and records the number on the back of the card. They then place the gift card back and wait.

The scammer will check the balance of the card until it's loaded in-store. The scammer then makes a purchase online and drains the balance from your card.

How to avoid this scam: Always select a gift card from the middle of the gift card rack. If the packaging looks torn or tampered with, don't purchase it.

of 05

The Gift Card Reseller Scam

Man holding cell phone and credit card

Wutthichai Luemuang / Eye Em /Getty Images 

Have you received an iTunes gift card you don't plan to use? You may think it's worth trying to sell the gift card online to get back some of your cash. Unfortunately, this is an opportunity to lose the funds on your card altogether.

Scammers will reach out to victims selling their gift cards online. After an offer is made, the scammer will ask to verify the balance on the card by calling the merchant in a three-way method. As the victim reads the gift card number, the scammer notes it and immediately makes a purchase.

How to avoid this scam: Avoid gift card resell websites altogether. Instead, try to sell your gift card to a friend. If you choose to sell your gift card online, don't allow the buyer to listen to any phone calls between you and the merchant.

I’m Already a Victim. What Should I Do?

If you've already fallen victim to an iTunes gift card scam, now's the time to act.