Having helped thousands of clients over the years get their Apple or Google app store accounts set up, people instantly reach for their credit card.
Apple’s App store, or Google’s Play store, which are both app stores for mobile devices, typically require a credit card on account before you can purchase an app that has a price listed.
Extra Security or Curb Spending Habits
But you don’t have to use a credit card — and should never use a debit card — instead, to add a little security as well as an attempt to curb spending habits, you can use an Apple/iTunes or Google Play gift card instead.
You can purchase these Apple or Google Play gift cards in just about any grocery or convenience store, plus you can purchase them online via Amazon for example.
There are also e-gift cards, which are the same Apple or Google Play gift cards but sent via email instead. You redeem the code shown inside the email, and the funds attached to that card are transferred to your account.
Beware of Gift Card Scams
I am talking about you buying yourself gift cards to use for your Apple or Google account, to use in the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
If you receive a phone call from a stranger who is insisting you pay him/her/them/their company with gift cards — don’t do that. That is not normal. Especially when it is hundreds of dollars.
How to know if you’re being scammed
Someone might be trying to scam you if they ask you to buy an Apple or Google Play gift card and share the code so that you can pay for something outside the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. These gift card scams don’t just pick on Apple or Google, they also try to trick you into buying other types of gift cards (whatever is easiest for them to pull off their scams).
- A scammer calls and pretends to be from a government agency (like the IRS in the US. Other countries have agencies with different names). The scammer says that you owe money for taxes, bail money, debt collection, and more. They tell you that to avoid arrest or to prevent the seizure of physical items or your personal identification information (like your SSN in the US. Other countries use different names), you have to pay them with gift cards.
- A scammer claims to be a family member in trouble, an attorney, or another representative of your family member. The scammer tells you that they need to be paid in gift cards in order to remedy the situation. They may deter you from attempts to contact the family member to verify the claim. Don’t believe them. Never buy gift cards for them or provide them with any gift card codes.
These examples only cover some types of scams. Scammers constantly change the ways they trick people. If anyone asks you for a code, it could be a scam.
Three things to always remember about gift cards in general:
- Never use any gift card to pay for taxes, bail money, or anything else that is abnormal gift card use.
- Never share the code on the back of the gift card.
- No reputable person or agency will ever demand payment or your personal information on the spot.