Gift cards often provide a quick and easy way to give a gift that offers convenience and flexibility for the receiver. That simplicity, however, can also bring risks.
According to Consumer Reports, gift cards can bring an opportunity for scam artists to make off with your money.
In some cases, a criminal may simply take cards off the rack, write down the gift card numbers, and scratch off the strip on the back of the cards to get the security codes. Once that information is recorded, the crook puts replacement strips (easily available online) over the codes and returns the cards to the rack. Later, after you buy one of those cards and load money onto it, the hacker gets an alert and is able to access that money.
More sophisticated hackers skip the physical gift cards on racks in stores and go directly to the websites where consumers access their gift card balances. There, the hackers attack using botnets. The botnets test millions of combinations of gift card account numbers (which may follow discoverable sequencing patterns) and stolen PIN passwords to try to log into online gift card accounts that have money loaded onto them.
Some of the things consumers can do to keep themselves protected include:
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