As gift cards continue to grow in popularity, especially during the holiday season, gift cards magnify on the con artists’ radar.
Many times gift cards are available in stores with their identifying numbers showing. Thieves can write down those numbers or use a scanner to lift information from the magnetic strips. Now all they have to do is go on a website that displays gift card balances. As soon as they see the card activated they will use all the money on that card.
Also, they can use blank cards to create a fake duplicate card with the copied original having a nice balance and the fake having no money on it. Of course, the con artist quickly uses the balance. When the recipient of the fake card gets around to using the gift, the balance is zero.
Claire Bushey wrote on CreditCards.com how to avoid gift card scams. Here are her tips:
- Don’t buy gift cards displayed prominently within the store. Ask for cards that are stored out of sight.
- Examine cards and packaging for signs of tampering. The PIN number should still be completely covered and the activation sticker firmly affixed.
- Spend the gift card as soon as possible. Limit the time the con artist has to spend the balance.
- Beware of online exchanges and auction sites. Buy cards directly from retailers.
Gift cards still make perfect gifts. I enjoy giving and receiving restaurant gift cards; I bet your family and friends do, too. Don’t stop using them. Just be a little cautious when you do.
Have you had any trouble with gift cards?