Gift cards are more popular than ever, and with their increased acceptance comes a surge in gift card fraud. Over the last few years, a secondary market has sprung up targeted at unused gift cards, providing several options for customers to unlock the value in their gift card. These sites allow customers to swap gift cards, sell them for cash, or donate them to charity. Before you buy a gift card from one of these sites, here are five (5) tips you should know.
Too Good to be True: If the offer is too good to be true, it probably is. The most popular gift card scam currently being perpetrated works like this: Thieves with stolen credit cards would purchase store merchandise with the card. They will then return the merchandise to the store without a receipt. Since it is the policy of most stores to issue store credit when there is no receipt, the thieves are issued store credit, similar to a gift card. These cards are then sold online, usually at substantial discounts. If the seller is loosing a lot of money to sell you a gift card, walk away.
Do not pay by Check or Money Order: Do not pay for a gift card purchased online via check or money order. Insist on paying via Paypal or Google Checkout. This provides you a layer of protection since users have to go through a verification process to use Paypal or Google Checkout. In addition, in case of fraud, Paypal’s fraud department can assist with investigating your claim. And since Paypal requires individuals to link their bank accounts to their paypal accounts, law enforcement can follow the money trail all the way to the bank. This should give you a fair shot at getting your money back or having the perpetrators arrested should you become a victim of gift card fraud.
Rules for Swapping Gift Cards: When swapping or trading gift cards online, make sure you read and are comfortable with the website’s fraud prevention tools. Only use websites that verify all gift cards listed. In addition, look for sites that guarantee all transaction against fraud. When in doubt, consider selling your card for cash (you can sell to our sister site GiftCardRescue.com) and use the proceeds to purchase the card you really want, instead of swapping with someone you don’t know or cannot trust.
Check Gift Card Information: A seller should provide you all the relevant information about the gift card, including any fees or expiration date, original value of the card and current value on the card. If the gift card is missing any of this information, email the seller and get this information before you purchase the card. You definitely want to avoid buying a card that is about to expire.
Read Seller’s Feedback – If you are buying a gift card from eBay or any other auction site that uses the feedback process, be sure to read the sellers feedback before you purchase the gift card. Avoid sellers with no feedback or sellers without recent feedback.
The next article will provide tips on how to avoid fraud when selling your gift card online.
Have you or someone you know been a victim of gift card fraud? Share your in our comments section below.