An iTunes Scam and Gift Cards Heads Up

Phishing scams are junk e mails that tell you you’ve won something or you need to click on an e mail because your paypal, credit card, or bank account has been frozen. The crooks want you to click through and divulge some personal information and they can then get into your credit card, bank account, or commit identity theft.

A really nasty one started this morning, because I just received it. You need to pass this on: It’s an e mail from the Apple iTunes Store that shows up as a receipt for two purchased movies for $36.98. Just below the receipt it states: If you haven’t authorized this transaction, click below for a full refund. And millions of people will click before thinking.

Stop, count to 10 and look: The e mail comes from store.com and not from Apple. Apple does not send email receipts, and it looks unprofessional, and has spacing errors. That’s four clues right there. All you need to do is go to google and type in the website address it came from. When I typed in “store.com” it forwarded me to mysimon.com – a phony shopping site. Right there you know it’s not from Apple. It’s used by the same scammers to attempt to spoof simons.ca, the Quebec, Canada based department store.

When in doubt – do not click, or you’re in for a world of pain and identity theft if you answer any of the questions in clicking through on it.

Starbucks just released their financial statement, and in 2013 they sold $4 billion in gift cards in North America. I was just stunned when I read that. Want to guess what Starbucks will eventually make on unredeemed cards? The breakage (or non redeemed cards) is around 8% or more. So they’ll end up with around $320 million in profits for NOT selling coffee. If your card is down to a buck or two – just hand it to the person behind you in line – that way you’ll at least make sure they card gets used up.

If you have gift cards you don’t want, there are now a couple of credible sites that buy, sell, or exchange gift cards. One big one is cardpool.com. Large retailers such as Wal Mart or Target will have small discounts to buy and sell – boutique stores with much less volume have a much larger discount. That’s just a supply and demand issue. Right now, a $100 Lowe’s gift cards, as an example, can be bought for $93, or you can sell it to cardpool for $84.

Gift cards lock you into buying at one store – cash is good everywhere. If the chain is big AND financially stable, that’s not a problem. But the smaller the store, the more you’re taking a chance that they’ll still be in business when you or the recipient want to redeem the gift card! Be careful.

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