Beware of Scams Using Green Dot MoneyPak Cards

November 11, 2013

Beware of Scams Using Green Dot MoneyPak CardsNovember 11, 2013 – Memphis, TNBetter Business Bureau is warning consumers and business owners of multiple scams involving the use of Green Dot MoneyPak cards. Different versions of this scam are targeting consumers across the country, including consumers in the Mid-South.

Green Dot MoneyPak cards themselves are legitimate products when used for the right purposes. Once purchased at a participating retailer with cash, consumers can use MoneyPaks to reload other prepaid cards, add money to a PayPal account without using a bank account, or make same-day payments to major companies. Because the cards can only be bought with cash, consumers never need to disclose their personal or financial information to a retail cashier or to make a payment.

While many scams still involve crooks asking for funds to be wired to them, MoneyPaks have the added benefit of the crooks not having to show up at an office to claim the funds. Anyone with the 14-digit number found on the back of the card can drain the card of funds.

BBB has heard of several versions of scams involving crooks asking their potential victims to transfer funds using Green Dot MoneyPak cards, including:

  • A caller claiming to be an MLGW employee tells the customer their bill is overdue, and asks for immediate bill payment by Green Dot MoneyPak card. If the customer does not cooperate, the caller threatens to disconnect the person's electric or natural gas service. (MLGW says they never call someone to solicit immediate payment for past due utilities.)
  • A caller claiming to be with the Germantown police department says that you owe money on a red light ticket and must pay it immediately to avoid arrest. (The red light cameras have not been operational in over a year due to road construction in that area.)
  • Recent immigrants receive a call from someone posing as an IRS agent saying they owe back taxes and must pay immediately to avoid deportation. (The St. Louis BBB reported on a case where a couple from India lost $10,000 in this version of the scam.)
  • Your computer suddenly freezes and you get a message, supposedly from the FBI, accusing you of downloading pornography. You are told you can avoid prosecution and unlock your computer this one time by paying a fine. (Payment of the “fine” unfortunately does not unlock your computer and you must still seek the help of a computer professional to get rid of the malware.)

In all of these examples, the intended victims are instructed to buy a Green Dot MoneyPak card, load the amount of the fine or other money owed onto the card and then provide the number on the back of the card to the scammers, who will then drain the funds from the card.

BBB offers this advice to avoid falling for one of these scams:

  • Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
  • Remember that anyone who has the number on a Green Dot MoneyPak card has access to the funds on the card.
  • Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited.
  • Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers or Green Dot MoneyPak. Card numbers to someone you do not know.
  • Utility companies and government agencies will not contact you demanding immediate payment by MoneyPak.

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