The Walmart Gift Card Scam: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself

Avoid falling for this wallet draining scam

Have you ever received a call from an individual claiming to be working on behalf of a family member or friend asking for a gift card? Or, have you clicked on a coupon promising a free Walmart gift card? If so, you may have experienced a Walmart Gift Card scam. Keep reading to learn what the scam is and how to protect yourself.

What Is the Walmart Gift Card Scam?

Two Walmart gift card scams are the most common. These include "The Grandparent Scam" and the free Walmart gift card scam.

  • The Grandparent Scam is a phone scam and can be a form of vishing or voice phishing.
  • Free Walmart Gift Card Scams are online-based and tend to circulate around the internet around holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How Do the Walmart Gift Card Scams Work?

Although both of the scams involve Walmart gift cards, they're quite different.

A conceptual illustration of a Walmart Giftcard Scammer.
,Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

The Grandparent Scam

This scam begins with a phone call. When you answer, a scammer is on the other end, either portraying a family member or friend or pretending to represent a family member or friend as an attorney or caregiver.

The scammer will pull at your heartstrings, explaining that either they or the family member is in danger, arrested or broke. If you oblige, they'll ask you to purchase Walmart gift cards and give them the numbers over the phone. Unfortunately, they'll then use the cards to make purchases for themselves.

The Free Walmart Gift Card Scam

This scam can occur in many places online, whether on social media or as a phishing attempt in your email inbox. The scammer will set up a fake or spoofed website page or social media account and then advertise free gift cards. The catch is this: you must fill out a lengthy form with your personal information.

The personal information can include your name, birthdate, email address and even your account numbers. They'll then take that personal information and use it for their own gain.

How Do the Walmart Gift Card Scammers Find Victims?

For Walmart Gift Card scams involving a phone call, scammers typically cold-call until they find a willing victim. Scammers can get ahold of your number via online offer forms, as a result of oversharing your number on social media or, as a result of signing up for a credit card.

For email scams, scammers can find your email online via paid email databases or can capture it through online forms. For free gift card scams, they may simply send you a link that you can click. Once on the fake website, victims enter their personal information. Or, they'll post an ad on Facebook and include the link there.

Free gift card scams tend to circulate quickly via social media due to users sharing the link over and over. Do your part and refuse to share offers that look suspicious.

How Do I Avoid Getting Involved In These Scams?

For scams via phone, simply don't answer the call. If it's a number you don't know, it's best to not answer. If it's important, they'll leave you a message. If you do answer and the spammer requests gift cards on behalf of your family member, call that family member personally to confirm.

For free gift card scams, refuse to believe offers that are too good to be true. Avoid clicking suspicious links, especially from emails that land in your spam folder. Don't fill out forms on websites that look fake or suspicious. And if you're truly curious, you can reach out to Walmart to confirm an offer is legitimate.

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

Have you become a victim of a Walmart gift card scam? If you have purchased a gift card for an unknown caller, it's best to:

  • Notify Walmart to help them protect others from the same call.
  • File a report with your local law enforcement.
  • Call your bank to see if charges can be reversed.

Save the phone number the scammer called from for future reference. Also, document the conversation as you remember it, should you need to give an account in the future.

If you've opened a suspicious website and have entered your personal information such as your account number in exchange for a fake gift card offer:

If you clicked a link through social media, it's best to change your password to keep your account safe. Remember, if the link asks you to enter your log-in again, don't do it. This is a spammer's way of hacking your social media account.

How Do I Avoid Being Targeted for Walmart Gift Card Scams?

To avoid being a victim of a Walmart phone scam, remember to be careful when sharing your personal information online. Don't give out your phone number unless it's necessary. Don't answer phone calls from suspicious callers.

To avoid being a victim of an email or social media fake gift card scam, don't click on links that look suspicious. Better yet, don't fall for offers that look too good to be true. Avoid putting your personal information into suspicious online forms.

If a form asks you for your bank account information, run. No offer form should require sensitive financial information or detailed demographics.