Scam Watch: MoneyPak Scams Draining Consumers’ Wallets
By Consumers Union on Monday, October 7th, 2013
Update: MoneyPaks have since been discontinued, but continue to watch out for similar scams. Scammers are looking to get paid in ways that are fast, irreversible and untraceable. Therefore, they will often ask you to use a prepaid card or wire transfer. Prepaid cards load and wire transfers are like cash. Once they’re gone, they are gone. And you can’t get it back. For your safety, don’t send money to anyone you don’t know.
by guest blogger Caitlin Watkins
Warning: there are a number of different scams out there that utilize Green Dot MoneyPaks. MoneyPaks, found at corner stores and big retailers alike, are commonly used to reload prepaid cards, add money to Serve or PayPal accounts, or pay bills. Scammers have caught on to these relatively anonymous payment tools. Scammers are tricking consumers into buying MoneyPaks with promises of prizes or threats of fines or worse. Citizens, hoping to claim a prize or avoid threatened punishment, are told to buy a MoneyPak and share the MoneyPak number with the scammer. The scammer then pockets the cash, and the consumer is out hard-earned cash.
The identities of people who use MoneyPaks are largely untraceable. This means that scammers can take advantage of people and still not be punished or even located after the fact. Here are a few examples of MoneyPak Scams:
- Someone calls you claiming you have won a prize for a sweepstakes or lottery. In order to collect the money, they ask you to pay fees or taxes upfront.
- You receive a call or email from someone claiming they need money from you immediately, either for a bill past due or for their personal use. They ask you to use MoneyPak to access this money.
- You’ve purchased something online using MoneyPak, but the item never arrives and you cannot reach the seller.
Have you received such a call or email? There are things you can do to avoid these scams:
- Companies and governmental organizations do not typically call you to collect money. If someone calls you directly, then most likely, they are a part of a scam.
- Look at MoneyPak’s website to verify that a company is an approved MoneyPak partner.
- Always check with the company or organization directly via website, telephone, or email to verify their legitimacy.
- Never give your debit, credit or prepaid card number to anyone you do not know.
- Treat your Green Dot MoneyPak like cash. Transactions will not be reimbursed or reversed, and your money is not FDIC insured, so it is important to protect yourself by asking questions and reading the fine print!
If you think you are a victim of a MoneyPak card fraud, contact your local police department, and call 1-800-GREEN DOT.
Have you been ripped off by a scam? Tell us your story in the comments below!