JOPLIN, Mo. — A recent investigation done by the Better Business Bureau shows a spike in gift card scams.

With Christmas shopping taking off, this serves as a good reminder as the BBB research indicates a 50-percent increase in gift card scams over the last year.

BBB officials tell us, scammers use gift cards as a way to steal money from people, especially those who frequently shop online.

Pamela Hernandez with the Springfield BBB branch shared some prevention tips with us.

Be cautious of someone asking for payment in the form of a gift card.

In the case that you are scammed, make sure to keep any receipts or information from your purchase – as it may be necessary for refunds.

“We do see them as part of Facebook Marketplace scams where somebody is selling an item and they ask for a gift card as payment. Particularly a red flag, not just the gift card, but let’s say they want an Apple gift card or an Amazon gift card. That can be a big red flag that something is not right,” said Pamela Hernandez, Better Business Bureau Regional Director.

If you have suspicions about a gift card, call the number on the back of the card to report it as soon as possible.