Gift card scams: What to watch out for

Ways to avoid gift card scams

RICHMOND, VA (WXIX/WWBT) - The hottest holiday gift again this year?

Gift cards!

But thieves are working overtime—to drain that balance before you can!

Odds are you’ve got gift cards on your holiday list.

But how you buy them could make a big difference in terms of your odds of being scammed.

The first tip is to avoid those gift card stands at the back of the store.

It’s better to buy gift cards in a high-traffic area, where it’s less likely someone could tamper with them.

Before you buy a gift card, check it over thoroughly.

If it looks like that watermarked sticker has been peeled back or replaced, don’t buy that card!

Thieves will sometimes record gift card numbers and PINs, then wait for someone to activate that balance.

When they do, they try to spend that money before the buyer can!

And, unfortunately, sometimes the cashier is in on it.

In one common scheme, employees switch out cards when they’re activating them, keeping the now-loaded card, and handing the shopper a duplicate with nothing on it.

So make sure you keep your eyes on a card you’re buying the entire time.

And make sure the number on that card matches the activated number on your receipt!

Thieves also use 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 gift cards as fast as you can, so you hopefully beat thieves to the punch.

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