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Category: Gift Card Fraud (Page 1 of 2)

EPPICard Scam & Fraud

The EPPICard, also known as the Child Support Card is a prepaid debt card that is used by a number of states to make unemployment,  child support and other welfare payments to recipients. The cards are issued under the Visa or MasterCard brand and are currently used in 25 states. They are managed on behalf of the states by Affiliated Computer Services, or ACS, which is owned by Xerox.

The EPPICard has been a recent target of a variety of internet scams, the most common being “phishing” attacks. Usually, a phishing email requests that the user log in to verify their account status, but re-directs them to a fake site, where their log in information is then captured, to be used later to access their account, steal personal information and funds.

How To Avoid The Scam

  • Do not access your EPPICard information from public computer terminals, including libraries, Internet cafes or unsecured Wifi locations.
  • Do not respond to suspicious e-mails that appear to be sent by Eppicard or ACS. If you are unsure, call the EPPICard customer service number listed on the back of your card. If you do not have the customer service number, you can find that information here (just select your state from the drop down menu).
  • Do not open email attachments from senders you are not familiar with. If you recieve an unusual attachment from a familiar source, contact them first before opening it.
  • Shred or destroy old EPPICard statements. Do not just throw them away.
  • Carefully monitor your transaction history on the Eppicard website and report all unauthorized purchases immediately.
  • If you lose your EPPICard or think it is stolen, report it immediately so that the card can be cancelled and a new one issued to you.

How To Prevent Gift Card Fraud

Be Informed

Gift cards are becoming more popular every year leading to a plethora of merchant options for consumers. These days, you can buy gift cards just about anywhere from the actual retailer to convenience stores, internet auctions and more. With more options available to buyers comes more viable ways for scammers to attack. Here is an example of a scheme used by scam artists recently which has made news across the country:

The crooks have found a way to rob you of your gift card balance. If you buy Gift Cards from a display rack that has various store cards you may become a victim of theft.

Crooks are now jotting down the card numbers in the store and then wait a few days and call to see how much of a balance THEY have on the card. Once they find the card is “activated,” they go online and start shopping.

You may want to purchase your card from a customer service person, where they do not have the Gift Cards viewable to the public.

Although this may seam highly unlikely to happen to you the truth is that is has actually become a popular plot. Where does this kind of scam occur? Any retail or convenience store with card displays that are not controlled or behind the register. Frauds can jot down the pin and card number before waiting for activation. Once activated, they are able to expend the funds online essentially leaving you with nothing. This became a huge problem this past holiday season due to the fact that consumers would activate cards at purchase before giving them as gifts. The period in between became a perfect window for gift card fraud.

More Gift Card Scams and Threats

  •  Counterfeit, used, or stolen gift cards for sale on auction websites
  • Scam artists who lie about the available funds and sell the cards on auction sites. Buyers do not get what they think they purchased.
  • Using stolen credit cards to buy gift cards before turning to resale for profit.

How To Protect Youself From Becoming A Victim

  1. Steer clear of purchasing from online auctions. These are just crawling with fake,stolen, and used gift cards wating to be purchased.
  2. Do not purchase gift cards from public display racks. As discussed, this is the easiest place for scam artists to take down card information before they wait for activation.
  3. Purchase cards directly from the distributing retailer. For example: Purchase an American Eagle gift card AT American Eagle.
  4. Always examine the gift card. Do not purchase cards with exposed pins or those which look suspicious of tampering.
  5. When purchasing online, use a secure site. Sites like GiftCardRescue specialize in gift card exchange, sell gift card, and buy gift cards. Here you can buy discounted cards and even sell unwanted for cash back on every dollar with the security of a guaranteed purchase.
  6. Register your card online at the retailers site if at all possible. This way you can track spending and account activity.
  7. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Don’t fall for online stunts for free gift cards. This seems to be a big problem via social media like facebook and twitter. Let’s be honest. There is no way WalMart is going to give away thousands of $100 gift cards. Don’t fall for pitches like these.
  8. Never give out any personal information. Social Security number, date of birth, account information. Reputable companies should NEVER need this and should not even ask.

 

Fake Costco Gift Card Scam on Facebook

A free $100 Costco gift card might sound like a great bonus before the holidays, but this free gift card giveaway on Facebook is a fake scam. This gift card scam will take you to awesome-prizes.com where a ticker will count down telling you how many gift cards are remaining.

To redeem your fake prize, the company will ask you for additional personal information that may be used to steal your identity or compromise your profile. It is unknown at this time whether the site will infect a virus on your computer, but this is something that you definitely don’t want to rule out from happening.

Watch out for the Costco Gift Card Scam

The scam has been spreading quickly because once you click the link, you’re asked to like the page. This is very common for most facebook contests that require you to like their page in order to be entered. After clicking the like link, you’re then asked to share the contest with your facebook friends. This adds authority to the message and can be one of the major reasons why it has spread so quickly.

 

Red Star Gift Card Scam

Recently, RedStarWorldWear.com  launched a conflictual marketing stunt, where the company sends “Free $500 Gift Cards” to consumers via snail mail. The catch is a 9% of sale shipping and handling fee which tags along. Consumers are responding with mixed feedback regarding this ploy along with some confusion.

Is this card too good to be true? What REAL benefit does it hold? Should I toss it? We’ve analyzed the pros and cons, based on consumer feedback, in order to assist your decision on how you might use this Red Star gift card.

The Cons

Public response has shown that many consider the potentially decisive means of advertising this shipping cost is a characteristic of poor business morality.

Others are quick to point out a more complex scheme. Customers have stated that the merchandise is of poor quality and inflated prices which in turn may result in shipping and handling fees costing the consumer more in the long run.

It is important to note that the cards following the initial launch carried print stating “Free Gift Card” but the company has since removed these words from their mail-outs.

The Pros

Many others report that they have used the card and the site without problem or concern. A number of individuals actually, business owners included, rebutted to these SCAM cries saying that this is simply clever marketing. Not only did it stir viral conversation, but many consumers are actually content with the 9% charge.

Feedback seems to be based on discrete review. Basically, those who enjoyed the product, enjoyed the promotion.

Facebook Gift Card Scams

There have been multiple Facebook gift card scams recently where users are directed to a website for a free gift card to Starbucks, Outback or Walmart. These are not legitimate contests and may cause serious damage to your computer or attempt to steal your private information.

The scammer will tell you to invite your Facebook friends in order to be eligible for the prize. This is because every time someone visits the website and completes the action (giving up an email, filling out a survey, or downloading a file) they receive a commission. Do not fall for this because you will expose your information and not receive a gift card.

How to Avoid Facebook Gift Card Scams

1.) Look at the URL that the contest is pointing to.

A legitimate contest will point to the actual Outback.com or Starbucks.com. Avoid anything that looks like freeoutbackfor.me or starbucksfreegiftcards.com. This is the easiest way to tell that the contest is not real.

2.) Does the Giveaway Make Sense? 

It’s not often that a company will give away anything for free, especially $50 or $100 gift cards. If it seems to good to be true, then it’s probably a scam.

3.) Do research online

A simple google search can usually help to see if a contest is real or not. Make sure you visit the merchant’s website to find out more information.

Pay Cash for Online Gift Cards using eBillme

Ebillme is a payment service that uses your traditional bank’s online bill pay service to checkout at a variety of different merchants. They sell electronic gift cards, but their company is more of an alternative payment service that uses your bank account rather then credit or debit card. This allows you to pay for items that you want using cash and avoid the high fees associated with credit cards. With the recession, it is very common for people to avoid credit cards by using services like Ebillme or prepaid cards.

Using Ebillme

Because you only pay using cash Ebillme is definitely safer than using a traditional credit card. This is because your personal information like social security number or address cannot be compromised and this decreases the chance of fraud or identity theft. Chris Brogan does a good job in his blog post explaining how the process works and can use some improvements

EbillMe Gift Cards

Ebillme allows you to email electronic gift cards or online gift cards to anyone with an email address. Their service differs from many other egiftcard vendors like iCardSystems because eBillme is a payment service. They are not just a gift card vendor and you cannot purchase one of their gift cards using traditional methods (credit card or paypal). You can use their gift cards as a prepaid card to shop and pay at a huge number of merchants that can be found here.

There have been a number of problems using their system as found on the complaints board website. A few users are quoted as saying that they experienced heavy delays using the service and those funds were not transferred in an appropriate amount of time. One user even mentions how the pending rebates are not as advertised and that you can only use them in $10 increments at a time.

I’ve earned $25 in rebates but can only use $20. The remaining $5 will go unclaimed because (I’m not kidding) I’m never using this service again.

For some reason this does not seem fair and from what I can tell these terms are not clearly covered. It is difficult to navigate through the site and find all of the information you are looking for. I think that eBillme is a great concept and secure for online users, but from what I’ve read their service still has a few flaws. It will be interesting to see if they are able to sell online gift cards to users who are not looking for a payment alternative, but just a gift card.

eBay Hates Gift Cards

eBay is one of the most popular sites to buy and sell pretty much anything. However, if you’re attempting to sell a gift card, better look somewhere else. eBay has some pretty strict rules regulating the selling of gift cards, here’s a quick overview:

Why does eBay have this policy?

In the secondary gift card market, there is a large potential for fraud.  People often try to take advantage of this by using sites like eBay.  At GiftCardRescue we have put in place several measures’s to deter fraud to ensure the best consumer experience possible. If you’re looking to buy or sell bulk gift cards, its best to stick with the pros.

Here is eBay’s explanation:

“We understand that you may have gift cards that you can’t use or would like to sell. The restrictions on the value and the frequency of gift card listings are in place to promote a safer and more satisfying experience on eBay.”

Source.

While you can sell gift cards on eBay, the number of cards, amount, and frequency is highly regulated and restricted.

Ways to Avoid Gift Card Scams

There have been a variety of scams people have fallen victim to when trying to redeem their gift cards. Here are a few tips and situations to help you avoid being ripped off of your money.

1. After purchasing the card immediately write your initials on the back of it in permanent marker.

When an unknowing consumer goes to use their gift card at the place of purchase, the cashier will switch the card with a different one containing no value. When the cashier tries to verify the card and the value is zero the consumer is out of luck. Don’t let this happen to you by just writing your initials on the back of the card you won’t be fooled by such a trick.

2. Scratch off the account & pin number on the back of the card & write it down while also registering your card online

Scammers will copy down the account & pin numbers off of cards in stores like Walgreens that sell gift cards to a variety of places like Olive Garden Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble. They will then call and look up to see when the card was activated and if so they will use the account number to shop online. If you card is registered to your name and you can prove ownership with the account and pin number you will be able to retain the value.

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Warning! Beware of Fake Gift Card Balance Sites

An article was just released on Thursday from the Consumerist about fake gift card balance sites that are looking to steal the value of your gift card. The sites were professionally designed and executed, but immediately taken down after the submission to google that these sites were fake.

If you wish to check the balance of your gift card online it his highly advised to make sure that you are at the correct URL for the company that supports the card. For example the sites url’s used were “myapplegiftcard.com” and “mybestbuygiftcard.com” While these sites were designed to fool even seasoned web users it is recommended to navigate the original home page and then find the link to checking your balance.

Avoid anything involving “my____giftcard”

Sean writes,

I was recently trying to sell an Apple gift card on CraigsList and received a bite from a “buyer” who claimed they wanted the card but wanted me to take a screen shot of the balance from myapplegiftcard.com.

Having been scammed before on gift card BS, I was very wary esp since I didn’t want to scratch off the pin for someone who may or may not buy the card. Especially since the woman didn’t want to give out any info and pulled the old “you seem sketchy since you won’t do this” card to try to put me on the defensive.

Continue reading here at The Consumerist

Stolen iTunes gift card codes sold online?

If you are into buying iTunes gift cards online, you may have come across incredibly cheap iTunes gift card offers, especially on eBay. In most cases, the seller emails you an iTunes gift card code which is usually active for a few hours, meaning you have to use it soon or lose it. These codes are sold at substantially deep discounts, as compared to other discounted gift cards sold online, like on GiftCardRescue.com and other secondary gift card sites.

Two questions come to mind regarding these deeply discounted iTunes gift cards. First, there is no public information out there showing that Apple is deeply discounting iTunes gift cards through third party sites. Also, if these iTunes gift card codes are legitimately obtained, why the need to have the buyer use it quickly? One possible reason may be because the gift cards were obtained using stolen credit cards and the seller is afraid that if the card is not used quickly, the authorities may be able to trace the card purchase and have the iTunes card deactivated.

Another possible explanation is that hackers may have been able to crack the algorithm Apple uses to generate iTunes gift cards and are therefore able to generate them at will and offer them at such deep discounts. A recent article from The Tech Herald confirms this suspicion. According to the article, hackers in China have been able to crack the Apple iTunes code generation system and are selling $200 USD iTunes cards for about $17.9 RMB or $2.60 USD. If this is the true, then Apple is doing a very poor job of securing the iTune codes.

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