Don’t Be Fooled Into Buying Gift Cards This Year

We are in peak gift card buying season as the holidays are fast approaching, meaning scammers are also in peak season trying to trick us into buying gift cards that those on our list won’t actually be able to use. We’ve previously covered how scammers impersonate employees of the Internal Revenue Service or other authority figures to trick you into paying for things with gift cards . But time only makes scammers more sophisticated and inventive, so here are some new gift card scams to watch out for.

How to Spot Fake Gift Cards in a Store

Unpurchased gift cards have been spoofed for years, but it’s usually an old trick where scammers take a gift card, find the PIN information, and then put it back on the shelves, where they wait for the victim to buy it and put money on it. . They do this by periodically calling the number on the back of the card to see if there is a balance, and then draining it as soon as it appears. But now the scammers are printing their own barcodes and putting them on top of the real ones ; once the card is activated and the money is credited to it from the victim, the money eventually goes to an existing card owned by the scammer, and you end up giving away a gift card worth exactly zero dollars.

To avoid giving this sad gift, check gift cards for signs of forgery before putting money on them. The barcode number must match the number on the back of the package. Peel off the barcode to see if it comes off and compare it to other barcodes on the shelves to see if anything looks wrong.

If you find a fake gift card, take it to customer service so no one else buys it by mistake. If you put money on one, contact the card company and let them know. You can also tell your bank and potentially get a refund if you paid with a credit card.

Be aware of this Apple Gift Card Scam

Recently, a viral TikTok video of a woman who bought $100 worth of Apple gift cards at Target went viral. When she bought one, she was scammed and was unable to use the card when she returned home to find that the last few digits of the code had been crossed out and she couldn’t get a refund because Target has a strict gift card return policy.

The lesson here is that you should check any gift card you buy in stores because they are easy to manipulate. If you want to buy a gift card for a specific store, you’d be better off buying it online or directly from that store (as long as they’re kept behind a glass partition or counter). Gift cards left open to customers are not safe.

Beware of “free” gift cards in exchange for information

You got one of those “Win a Free $100 Amazon Gift Card!” messages yet? These types of scammers are trying to lure you in with a tempting offer that is simply unrealistic. They usually ask you for personal information in order to send you a gift card as part of the app. They may ask for a social security number, banking information, or upload a file to “transfer” the gift card to you.

This is especially frustrating because free gift cards are actually legal, but there are ways to weed out the fake ones from the real ones. Check the URLs, phone numbers and email addresses they provide and match them with real companies. If they don’t match, you can be sure it’s a scam. Another way is to contact the company they are trying to impersonate and ask if they actually offer such a gift card program.

Or just remember: if it’s too good to be true, it might be a scam.


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