Protect yourself from gift card scammers this holiday season

Posted: Updated:
EDISON -

Gift cards are a great last-minute holiday gift.

Retailers are expected to sell $30 billion worth of gift cards this holiday season alone.

But scammers often come up with new ways each year to try to spend the money before the consumer can.

“When you buy a physical gift card, check the packaging,” says consumer advocate Shelly Hunter.

Hunter says, “Even though thieves can be pretty clever and pretty tricky, check the packaging and make sure to look for anything that looks like it could have been tampered with."

Consumer experts say that the scammer will take a card off the rack and scratch off the seal to reveal the security code. They will then take pictures of the card number and code and put a counterfeit seal back on the card.

When the consumer loads funds onto the card, the scammer is notified and may be able to spend the money before the buyer can.

Experts say to protect against this, make sure the card is in its original packaging with no numbers visible. If purchasing the card online, make sure it is bought directly from the manufacturer when possible. And only buy used gift cards from reputable sellers.

“I want a reseller that offers customer service and a money-back guarantee if anything goes wrong with the gift card,” Hunter says.

Gift cards should also be used right away. This will ensure consumers get the best worth out of the card. Each year, billions of dollars in gift cards are never redeemed because the cards are lost or forgotten.

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