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
- Steer clear of purchasing from online auctions. These are just crawling with fake,stolen, and used gift cards wating to be purchased.
- 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.
- Purchase cards directly from the distributing retailer. For example: Purchase an American Eagle gift card AT American Eagle.
- Always examine the gift card. Do not purchase cards with exposed pins or those which look suspicious of tampering.
- 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.
- Register your card online at the retailers site if at all possible. This way you can track spending and account activity.
- 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.
- 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.