GREENSBORO, NC - Gift cards; quick, easy, convenient and the person is almost guaranteed to find something they like and will use. Are they one of the best gifts? Thousands of people certainly think so.
The National Retail Federation estimates gift card spending will reach $27.6 billion during the 2017 holiday season. People will buy four gift cards as presents, worth around $45 each, on average. Also, 59 percent of respondents to a Proper Insight & Analytics survey, said they will purchase a gift card for someone this year.
So, you buy or get one…you want to make sure there’s money on it and the money will stay on the card. See, scammers know people like gift cards and will do anything they can to swipe the money right off the card.
The Better Business Bureau warns everyone buying a gift card in store to go ahead and flip the card over and thoroughly examine the package.
“Scammers are known to remove gift cards from the store rack and record the numbers associated with that card. They put the card back on the rack and wait until a customer purchases it. Once the customer buys the card, the scammer uses the number online and wipes the gift card clean before the customer even has a chance to use it,” the BBB said.
Make sure the PIN number on the back isn’t exposed or the card packaging is intact.
Also, scammers can be impatient and just grab the first few ones from the front. So, grab a gift card from the middle or back of the rack to be safe.
When purchasing a gift card, check the terms and conditions. Some stores limit the gift card use to in store only. So, giving a gift card to someone who doesn't have a store nearby could be a hassle if they couldn't use the card online.
Be careful when purchasing gift cards from a third-party, un-reputable or auction website. Scammers might sell you a card with no value or that is expired or fraudulently obtained. In addition, the BBB warned, “The seller could sell you a gift card that does indeed have the actual balance on it, but steal the numbers and start wiping the gift card clean after you receive it.”
And, remember, no matter whether you’re buying the card in store or online, never give your personal information. Think about it. Why would the store need your social security number to sell you a gift card?
As for receiving a gift card, register the card as soon as you get it (if the retailer allows this.) Registering makes it easier to track misuse, and therefore easier to report any problems and keep the money on the card.
And finally, a gift card is an option, not a requirement to pay for a transaction. Meaning, a store or retailer will never demand you use a gift card as payment. Scammers will call you and threaten you with jail time, lawsuits and all kinds of nonsense unless you pay them immediately with a gift card. It's a scam. Just hang up.