NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is warning the public not to fall prey to gift card scams this holiday season.

The department says the Federal Trade Commission found Tennesseans lost nearly $1 million through prepaid gift card scams in 2018. That's a 44 % increase over 2017.

One scam involves callers demanding payment for fictitious debts in the form of a prepaid gift card. The department warns that no government agency will ever demand gift cards as payment. Most reputable businesses don't ask for gift cards either.

The department also recommends only buying gift cards from reputable sources and treating them like cash.

More information for avoiding scams is available on the department's website at www.tn.gov/consumer .

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