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Beware the Gift Card Drain this Holiday

We all do it. It’s the night before your get-together and you didn’t have a minute to go out shopping, so, you stop off and get a gift card for whomever you left out. Gift cards have become an extremely popular present on all occasions, and only gain in popularity during the holiday season. People love receiving them, people love giving them, what’s not to like?

Well, there is one thing not to like. A really terrible gift is a gift card that has been drained of its value. This happens all the time, actually and consumers are left without an option, and are forced to cut their losses. Here’s how to prevent that from happening so your gift recipient can buy the perfect present that they actually wanted:

Avoid cards from an accessible display. Yes, retailers love gift card malls, and they do offer an excellent selection of cards. However, they’re vulnerable to an especially pernicious scam. Scammers can copy down the card number and scratch off the strip covering the security code, then replace the scratch-off strip that goes over the security code. Software will tell them when the card has been activated and is ready to have its balance stolen.

Change the code. Another way to avoid the number-stealing scam described above is to change the card’s security code immediately after purchasing the card. Let the recipient know that you did that and why, of course, and give them the new code.

Buy gift cards online. This works especially well if you’re buying a large-denomination card: buy it directly from the retailer, if that’s an option, and ship it directly to you or to the recipient.

All in all, just please be careful in your gift card buying process! It’s a great gift, but easily accessible for scammers and thieves alike. If you come across something like this, please contact us as soon as you possibly can!

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