How scammers can drain gift cards before you even buy them

Gift cards are one of the most popular gifts to give for the holidays, but scammers have found a way to drain them before you can even gift them.

If you can believe it, hackers remove the gift cards from the racks and either write down the card numbers or use a magnetic strip reader to scan the numbers. Then, they scratch a sticker off that protects the pin number.

Once they have that information, they put a replacement strip on the gift cards and put it back on the rack. Once the gift card is bought, the scammers get an alert and they then go on a shopping spree with a gift card you just bought.

Here are the Troubleshooter Takeaways:

  • You need to check the gift card closely before buying, look at the packaging, and stickers for tears or wrinkles, really anything suspicious. Try to buy gift cards from trusted sources, even those that keep the gift cards behind the counter.
  • Also always keep your receipt when you activate a gift card. That way if something is wrong, you can report it to the store where you bought it or to the company that issued the card.
  • Lastly, try and use gift cards as soon as you get them, that way there is less chance for fraud and that you'll lose it.
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