Avoiding gift cards scams
There are several traps that target people selling gift cards.
- In one scam, fraudsters pay you for a card (or the code on the card), but then dispute or cancel the charge after they have already used the gift card.
- In another, they ask you to buy a bunch of gift cards in exchange for an item on an auction site—and then never actually send you the purchase.
To avoid becoming a victim, take several precautions when you use gift card websites.
- Check reviews of any website you use.
- Always review gift card balances before and after purchasing the card.
- If you are selling a gift card, don’t ever give out the card’s PIN until your payment transaction is complete.
- Be wary of auction sites selling gift cards at a discount or in bulk.
- If you are buying a gift card in a store, examine the protective scratch-off area on the back of the card for evidence of tampering.
- Beware of social media postings offering vouchers or gift cards: Fraudulent messages can sometimes appear to have been shared by a friend when they really come from a scam artist.
You can protect yourself from gift card fraud by following a few simple
- Don't buy gift cards displayed prominently within the store. Ask
sales clerks to sell you cards from the back room or behind the customer
- Examine cards and packaging for signs of tampering. Don't buy a
card where the coating covering the PIN number has been scratched away or
the activation sticker isn't firmly affixed.
- Spend the gift card as soon as possible. Don't put the card in a
drawer for months. The longer consumers take to spend their gift cards, the
more time thieves have to do it for them.
- Beware of online exchanges and auction sites. Online buy cards
from reputable online exchanges or auction sites because of the possibility
of buying stolen cards.