Gift cards are great gifts.

They can be the perfect present for a student graduating from college, for a newly married couple or for a birthday gift for a long-distance relative.

But, con artists have latched onto gift cards as a convenient form of payment in their scams.

According to AARP, here are signs to watch for if a gift card is asked for as payment:

1. You’re directed to buy one or more gift cards — often referred to as “electronic vouchers” — as a quick means of making payment.

2. You’re told to share the numbers on the back of the gift cards, by reading them off or sending a picture.

3. The request comes from someone you wouldn’t expect to ask for money this way:

Social Security warning of a problem with your account

A utility company warning of an imminent shutoff

A lottery company promising a big prize — once you pay some fees upfront

A grandchild needing bail or facing another financial emergency.

If this has happened to you, report it.

Option 1: Report your encounter to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline by calling 877-908-3360.

You’ll be able to speak to a fraud specialist and data from the Helpline will be shared with the Federal Trade Commission and used to identify trends and build cases against criminals.

Option 2: Report your encounter on the AARP Scam-Tracking Map. Your report will help warn others in your area.

These scams are becoming more and more common as thieves target the vulnerable.

It works like this: a scammer contacts you and asks you to purchase a gift card, then share the numbers on the card with them.

Join AARP for a free webinar at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 6 to learn how it all works, how serious it is, and how you can stay safe.

You’ll even learn about instances of real gift card scams around you.

Register at