What is also skyrocketing are gift card scams. Since 2018, they have cost consumers half a billion dollars.
7 On Your Side has simple guarantees to take before you buy.
No matter where you buy a gift card, one of the most important things to do before you buy is to make sure that it isn’t tampered with and that nothing is scratched on the back.
Before checking, always check that the PIN code is still covered with an original scratch-off coating – not a removable sticker. Scammers can easily steal 4-digit PIN codes and capture card numbers, then wait to put money on a card and dump it online.
Then, taking a very close look at the barcode, the criminals managed to tamper with Macy’s gift cards by sticking fake barcodes on the card codes and putting them back on the rack. The NYPD said that unsuspecting customers loading the cards with cash ended up putting money directly into the criminals’ card instead and offering worthless cards as gifts.
Be sure to select cards in the middle of the peg, behind the cash register, or in tamper-evident packaging.
Always get a receipt and make sure it matches the gift card you have on hand, is properly activated, then include the receipt when you offer the card, which verifies the purchase if lost or theft.
If you are looking to redeem or buy a discount gift card beware of similar websites claiming to offer big discounts, they might be designed to steal your money and swipe your credit card information at the same time.
Make sure you stick with established gift card resellers that offer a guarantee.
Also, be on the lookout for fake card activations or customer service websites and phone numbers.
Scammers have created similar websites that bounce at the top of search engine results – a mother paid crooks thousands of dollars on a fake Apple website, believing she was funding iTunes cards for her children.
Many gift cards come with high activation fees, it cost almost $ 4 to activate a $ 25 Visa gift card – not very good for your money.
A good way to save on these activation feeds is to purchase the gift card directly from the retailer.
Dunkin, Starbucks, gas stations, Apple, and department stores won’t charge you extra for purchasing their in-store gift cards, and some banks like TD sell Visa gift cards at no charge.
And just make sure you use them before you lose them – last year, according to the Gift Card Retail Association, $ 3 billion in gift cards went unspent.
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