The latest gift card scams to avoid

The latest gift card scams to avoid

(WWBT) - A new survey finds four in ten of us hope to get gift cards for the holidays. The top three gift cards come from Amazon, Visa, and Walmart.

While gift cards can be a safe choice in some ways, buy the wrong one and thieves could get the money, not the recipient.

Our sister station WXIX in Cincinnati recently found thieves putting phony barcodes on gift cards to steal the balances.

Thieves also record gift card numbers and then return the cards to the display. Then they wait and check the card balances online. As soon as someone buys those cards, they drain them.

Security experts say this makes kiosks in low-traffic parts of the store risky. Sometimes the cashier is in on it.  A Vantiv report finds that in 62 percent of gift card fraud, employees are involved.

Sometimes, employees simply switch out cards when they're activating them, keeping the now-loaded card, and handing the shopper a duplicate with nothing on it.

Therefore, make sure you keep your eyes on a card you're buying the entire time, and check to make sure the number on that card matches the activated number on your receipt.

Thieves are also using bots to run through a store's online gift card balance system looking for cards with activated balances. Then hackers steal those numbers and either drain them or sell them on the dark web.

Your only real defense is to use the gift cards as quickly as you can, so you hopefully beat thieves to the punch.

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