Gift Card Scams: Don't let thieves make off with your money - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Gift Card Scams: Don't let thieves make off with your money

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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:

  • Buying gift cards online directly from the retailer. Criminals do not have easy access to those cards. Buy online, especially if you are purchasing a high-value gift card.
  • Inspecting the card before buying. Verify that protective stickers have not been removed and that the PIN Number on the back of the card is not exposed. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
  • Treating your card like cash. If your card is lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately, even though you may not recover any of the value that was on the card. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, but other issuers may, for a fee. You may need to show proof of purchase and the ID number on the card. Most issuers also have toll-free telephone numbers you can call to report a lost or stolen card.

Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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