Unfortunately, some people use their creativity to find ways to steal from others instead of coming up with reputable ways to make a profit. Examples of this phenomenon include gift card scams. When you purchase shopping cards to give as gifts, there are some things to keep in mind to avoid becoming the victim of such scams.
First, it is better to purchase cards directly from a store than from a website, especially if your computer is not highly secure. The numbers on the card can be intercepted. Even if this doesn’t take place, a mailed card can be stolen. Thieves often watch mail for valuable items, especially around the holidays, which may provide an opportunity to perpetrate gift card scams.
When purchasing shopping cards in a store, remember that those within reach of customers are usually the most vulnerable to gift card scams. A deceptive individual may simply write down the numbers on new cards and then continue calling the help center to see when one has been activated. He or she may then use that number to make purchases online. When you or someone you have given a gift card to attempts to use it, the balance may be well below the expected amount, if not maxed out completely.
Other methods of gift card scams include switching cards that come in decorative holders or envelopes. This type often has the barcode on the back of the envelope. A scam artist can simply remove the new card and place an old one inside. When the cashier rings it up, the new card is activated with the amount you asked to have loaded onto the card. The scam artist has access to that money and the card you have is worthless.
If you purchase a gift card from a rack, ask the cashier to check the number on the card against the barcode. You can also ask the cashier to immediately check the balance and make sure the correct amount is on the card you purchased. Make sure personal identification numbers are not exposed, as this could be a sign of gift card scams.
Many cards include a toll free number on the back and others provide a website where you can register your card. You can call or login to check the balance, or to report lost or stolen cards as well as gift card scams. Be sure to keep your receipt, and if you believe you or someone you know has been taken by scams, please report the loss as soon as possible by calling or visiting the store’s website.
Theft and fraud are not the only gift card scams out there. Some stores also place an expiration date on cards that you may not notice. If the recipient doesn’t use the card in the allotted time, he or she will lose the entire amount, even though his or her intended purchases were prepaid. Some states have passed laws disallowing expiration dates on prepaid cards and gift certificates. Some allow it only after five or more years, and many ensure that retailers provide full disclosure of expiration policies. Still, it makes sense to check it out and to follow these other tips so people cannot take advantage of you if you purchase gift cards.