Gift Card Scam on the Rise
Surprisingly, credit and debit cards aren’t the only items you need to worry about in your wallet. More often, customers’ gift cards are being stolen from them, but not physically taken from them. It’s all being done electronically. You might think getting or giving gift cards is the best idea for presents, but other people are getting to the money before you do.
What They Do
Scammers go into big-named department stores like Best Buy, Walmart and Target and take photos on their phone of the unique 20-digit number on the back of the card. Then they will later go online to see if the card is activated, and if they find that it is activated they will simply type in the gift card number when they go online shopping. By the time you get around to using the gift card, you might end up finding that your card will have a remaining balance of zero dollars. Scammers are getting away with using gift cards that have 25, 100 and even 500 dollars on them!
Stores advise customers to purchase their gift cards from the customer service desk or pick gift cards toward the back of the shelf to help reduce the risk of the scam. The gift card scam happens more often during big holidays when customers are trying to purchase multiple and last-minute gifts. Even though gift cards might seem like a convenient way to shop, customers need to remember a few things to get its full value.
Gift Card Tips
- Use your gift card right away. This will help prevent anybody else from using the money before you do. If you receive the gift card during big holidays, be extra cautious and try to spend it as soon as possible.
- Look to see if there is an expiration date. Most customers automatically think that there are no expiration dates to gift cards, but expiration date policies changes from store to store and state to state.
- Don’t forget you have it. Most customers simply forget they have a gift card or only spend a couple dollars of it at a time so they can use the rest later. Consumers don’t realize that companies make millions of dollars off of unspent gift cards. So treat your gift card like it is cash, and keep it at the front of your wallet so you can remember to spend it.