Watch out for these gift card scams that make them worthless before they're even used

Diane Wilson Image
Sunday, December 24, 2023
Buying gift cards? Beware these scams
Gift cards are one of the most popular gifts to give this holiday. With this popularity, scammers have worked out ways to drain those cards.

Gift cards are one of the most popular gifts to give this holiday. With this popularity, scammers have worked out ways to drain those cards before you even give them.

When you find a gift card you want, take it off the rack and look at the back of the card. Many cards have a protective strip over the bar codes on the back of the card, some even have a pin that's still covered. If that protective strip or pin is tampered with, don't purchase it.

The reason is that it's possible a scammer already has those numbers and as soon as you activate the card, that thief could be able to snag that gift card balance before the person you're buying the gift card for is able to use it.

One new twist scammers are trying when it comes to gift cards is that they print their barcodes on stickers that go to already activated gift cards, then put those stickers on the gift cards on the sale rack. Once you purchase, your money goes to the gift card the scammers already have, making your gift card worthless.

The Better Business Bureau also suggests doing your research on gift card re-sell sites that advertise gift cards at deep discounts or websites that claim to check your gift card balance. Instead, those sites could drain your gift cards.

"It's best to make sure that you're getting it from a website that's reputable, that you recognize," Meredith Radford with BBB of Eastern NC said.

The best advice before buying any gift card at a store is to flip the card over and make sure it has not been tampered with.