It Might Be Wise To Skip Buying Gift Cards This Season

Sneaky crooks are stealing batches of gift cards from stores — sometimes hundreds at a time — so they can make note of the card number, as well as the PIN or activation code. At this point the cards are worthless because customers have yet to load any money onto them. Criminals, however, return them to store shelves, knowing that shoppers will eventually load them with funds up to $500. The crooks are then able to steal the money before the recipient is able to spend it. In some cases, the fraudsters subtly open the sealed envelopes the cards are stored in and cut off part of the card with the activation code. Then they put the card back in the envelope, with the car code still visible for a teller to scan and add funds. The scam has affected retailers like Target, Apple, Amazon, and Visa Vanilla gift cards. If you do decided to purchase a gift card, make sure it hasn’t been tampered with, including looking for scratches or scuff marks near the bar code on the back of the card. Make sure the gift card is sealed, and that any protective cover on the PIN or activation code is intact. Keep the store receipt in case you discover the card has been compromised. Report it to the gift card company immediately and request that the funds be frozen and a refund issued.