There are always gift card scams, especially near big holidays such as Valentine’s Day. But by following our simple tips below you will know exactly what to watch out for. In case you are the one receiving gifts cards and you don’t know what to buy with them, you can always get cash in gift cards online
Scam 1 – This is a pretty clever scam and it’s not easy to spot
Thieves have a way to take your voucher balance from your card, particularly if you buy the card from an in-store display rack. The scam artist will write down the voucher number from the card and then keep it somewhere for later use. Then a few days or a week later they’ll call up the store to see how much balance they have on the card. The store won’t realize that it isn’t the original purchaser and will give out the information.
Once the scammer knows that the card has been activated and has a balance, they can then go online and shop using your gift card balance.
How this scam is done
Most gift cards have some sort of security that stops anyone from getting hold of the card number by just looking at the card. The problem is that many of these gift cards are like credit cards and have a magnetic strip on them, which can be read by a scanner. All a thief has to do is scan the magnetic strip with the scanner and save the number for later.
To avoid this scam the best place to buy a gift card is from a store that either keeps them behind the counter or locks them away. This way no unauthorized person can get to them and steal information, although this won’t stop store staff should they be inclined (yes, this sometimes it does happen).
Scam 2 – Fake gift cards
This scam is a little bit easier to spot and you have more control. When you are buying a gift card or voucher, if you can get hold of one that you know is real. It can be a good idea to try to buy the item in person rather than online, although this isn’t always possible. If you only have images of the card then compare it to the one you know is real. If something doesn’t look right then chances are that the card is fake and you are being scammed. Scammers want to get cash in gift cards online.
Scam 3 – The gift card doesn’t have as much money on it as the seller promised
This one can be easy to avoid as all you have to do is call up the store with the voucher number and check the value. If the value doesn’t match what the seller has stated then chances are that the card is either fake or it has less money on it.
Whenever you buy a voucher check with the retailer before you buy that it has the correct amount available on it, otherwise you can very easily be left out of pocket.
Scam 4 – Gift cards bought with stolen credit cards
This can be difficult to detect as many sellers can come across as trustworthy. The only real way to avoid this is to only buy from reputable sellers and avoid one off sellers on auction sites as this is often where a lot of the scammed cards are sold.
Even if you do get a real gift card with the correct value on it, chances are that when the store realizes that it was bought with a stolen credit card that they will deactivate the card on their systems, making it worthless. Often there is no way to get your money back and chances are the seller’s phone number will be changed by the time you realize what has happened.