SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – As Christmas nears, folks will be busy buying gifts and scammers will be just as busy looking to take advantage.

A gift card can be the perfect present. The recipient gets something he or she really wants but the Better Business Bureau is warning gift card scams that can be costly.

Scams are most likely to occur at retail locations where gift cards are left out on racks unattended.

One scam site claims to help people check the balance on a gift card, but in reality, the site steals the card balance.

Easy steps to protect yourself include taking your gift card from the back of the rack. Scammers are more likely to put the ones they tampered with near the front, where they’re more likely to be purchased. The Better Busines Bureau recommends examining the pack carefully and make sure the pin hasn’t been exposed. If you can, register your gift card and don’t buy from a third party. Go directly to the store.

Gift cards are a target for scammers, even when they’re not trying to steal their value.

The cards become a tool for scammers who call unsuspecting seniors and claim their credit card has been compromised. The only way to fix it is by purchasing gift cards and providing the card information to the caller.

Experts say there are tell-tail signs that you’re about to be scammed.

“They ask you for money and time is of the essence. Those are the two red flags, ” says one expert.

If you think you may have been scammed, call authorities immediately. As the holiday season nears, police remind people to talk with seniors in their family, reminding them never to provide personal information to random callers.