With the holidays over, shoppers want to use their gift cards, but you may want to beware of scammers who have found a way to take advantage of that.
Gift cards are a very popular item to give during the holidays, and scammers know this. Scammers now use multiple tactics to steal money off of gift cards without the card holder even knowing it.
“This particular scam is aimed at tampered gift cards,” says Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, Louisianna CEO/President, Sharane Gott. So, the gift card is nice and sealed and on there might be a little hole where the PIN number goes or you know maybe it’s part of that long long number that identifies the gift card so you want to be real careful to check the packaging.”
Experts say scammers are known to remove gift cards from the store rack and record the numbers associated with that card. They put the card back on the rack and wait until a customer purchases it. Once the customers buys the card, the scammer uses the number online and wipes the gift card clean before the customer even has a chance to use it.
“There is a source for all this money. It’s not in the card. It’s somewhere online where there’s a connection where this money pool is. So, you want to make sure that you realize how this works and what you’re doing,” explains Gott.
Karen Willingham, Manager of Doghouse Computers, says they see scammers trying to take advantage of consumers regularly.
“The best thing is don’t let ever let anybody you do not know onto your system. If you get a phone call and they say you got a virus on your computer say no thank you and hang up. More than likely, they’re just trying to scam you,” says Willingham.
What can consumers do if they realize that their gift card has been compromised?
“Report it to the credit card company right away,” adds Gott. “Contact the person that gave you the gift card to see if they still have the receipt and they’ll tell you what to do from there. If you have all that information, you’ll be fine.”
Here are some suggestions on how you can protect yourself from these scammers:
- Examine the gift card.
- Do your research. It’s best to check the terms and conditions, and the expiration date or any fees.
- Register your gift card.
- Treat it like cash.
- Use caution when purchasing a gift card from a third party.
If you lose your gift card or someone steals it, it’s best to report it to the issuer immediately. You may need to also show proof of purchase and the i-d number on the card.
Experts say to also be cautious if any business ever asks you for your personal information when purchasing a gift card.