Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid gift card scams this holiday season

Gift cards are a popular gift for many this holiday season. But the Better Business Bureau is warning customers of gift card scammers who drain gift cards of their money before they can be used. To avoid your own gifts from being impacted, the BBB offers the following tips:

  • The BBB suggests running a finger over the back of a physical gift card to check if a sticker has been put over its barcode. Reports taken by the BBB say scammers put barcode stickers over the card’s actual barcode that scan to a different gift card that scammers control. When the fraudulent barcode is scanned at checkout, the money you pay for the gift card will actually be sent to the scammer.
  • Thieves will remove gift cards from their packaging to record numbers attached to the card. Before buying, the BBB recommends checking the packaging for tears or anything that shows signs of tampering. If anything is amiss, turn the card into the store’s Customer Service and get a new card for yourself.
  • If you come across a website or social media post that promotes gift cards for popular retailers at steep discounts, they might be using the offer as a front to steal personal information. Instead, the BBB recommends buying a gift card directly from a retailer.
  • Check the terms and conditions of how to use a gift card you purchased. Not all gift card policies are the same.
  • Some websites that offer to check your card’s balance might actually use the card’s information to drain money from it.
  • Register your gift card if the retailer offers it. This protects your card from being hacked and your money from being stolen. The BBB also recommends using the gift card sooner, rather than later. A card that goes unused is more likely to get hacked.
  • If your gift card is stolen or lost, report it immediately using the card company’s toll-free telephone numbers. That number can typically be found on the card or online.

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