Google Play gift card scam: How to avoid it

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Millions of people download apps and games on the Google Play platform, but you should know that scammers are also using the platform to defraud customers.

Because Google Play is so popular, Google Play gift cards are hot-ticket items, but consumers need to proceed with caution if anyone every asks you to pay for something using the cards.

How the Google Play gift card scam works

The way the ruse works is that users are tricked into ordering and handing over Google Play gift cards or the numbers on the back to pay for things like computer repairs, unpaid debts, taxes, and even cars.

Money expert Clark Howard’s Consumer Action Center receives plenty of calls about gift card scams.

Lori Silverman, who manages the center, says you just need to know one thing about the gift card scam:

“Anytime someone’s asking you to pay with Apple App & iTunes cards, Google Play cards or any kind of gift card, it’s a scam.”

The Federal Trade Commission agrees. It says that gift card scams are among the most popular money schemes out there — and among the easiest to spot.

“Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer,” the FTC says on its website.

Google Play gift card scam: 3 ways to protect yourself

If you made the mistake of paying a scammer with a gift card, call the company immediately. Here are the steps the FTC recommends:

  1. Contact the company: Tell them that your gift card was used in a scam.
  2. Ask for a refund: When making your request be sure to tell them the store where you bought the gift card.
  3. Act fast: The quicker you report it, the more likely it is that the company may be able to get your money back.

We should note, though, that Google says that its gift cards are only refundable if required by law.

Just remember: Google Play gift cards aren’t to be used to pay for anything outside the platform and you should never give anyone the numbers on the back of a Google Play gift card.


Have questions about scams or anything else money-related? Contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center — a FREE help line open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m and Friday from 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. EST with volunteers available to answer YOUR concerns! Call Team Clark @ 404-892-8227.

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