Gift Card Safety

The Holidays are here, and few things make gifts easier than simply getting someone a gift card. It’s a win-win for many people. However, consumers need to be cautious not to get scammed when giving or receiving gift cards. Criminals will attempt to remove safety measures to get the account number allowing them to make a clone of the card. When you purchase the card, you put money in the criminal’s account since they’ve already activated the card.  

 Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  1.  Buy your cards online.  Sure, we’ve all seen the displays of gift cards ranging from steak houses to online gaming at the local grocery or department store. While it may be tempting to pick up that quick gift, it is always more secure to buy gift cards from the retailer directly from their website. Buying directly from the retailer means criminals do not have access to the cards. 
  1. Inspect the card before purchase. If you’ve put off your purchase too long and have no choice but to purchase a card from a local store, make a point to inspect the card for tampering or alterations carefully. Also, check a number of the cards for duplicate bar-code numbers. Duplicate numbers are a giveaway a criminal has altered the card. 
  1. Secure locations.  Some retailers secure the gift cards behind a counter. If it is possible, always purchase gift cards from a place that secures the cards. Keeping the cards secured dramatically reduces the ability of criminals to alter cards. 
  1. Spend it.  It may be tempting to hold on to that card from Aunt Toni for a rainy day. But, depending on how many cards a criminal (or criminal organization) has altered or cloned, they may not immediately know the card has value. It is generally better to use the card quickly. So if Aunt Toni has given you a gift card in the past, think ahead on how you’re going to spend this year’s card. 

Author: Bill Green

Graphic courtesy of Freepik