Back to: Your Money Matters
December 08, 2017 06:06 PM

Gift Card Popularity, Scams Rise

This year, Americans will spend more than $26 billion on gift cards, but beware of a new scam; what you buy could cost you even more. Jessie Schmidt with the Better Business Bureau South Dakota says it doesn't take much for scammers to steal the pin numbers and get away with the goods. There are ways to protect yourself. 

It doesn't come in a big box, but getting one of these cards can be a pretty good gift. 

"Cause you can get what you want from the places that you want," Jessie Schmidt said. 

Gift cards are the second most given presents, only behind clothing. It makes sense these are on every scammer's holiday wish list. 

"And that money is gone completely before you've even attempted to use the card," Schmidt said. 

Here's one way that happens. Schmidt says scammers will grab a card off the rack, scratch off the film that covers the pin number.

"What they do is, they take a picture of the back of the card," Schmidt said. 

Once they have the number, they put a sticker -- which you can buy online -- over it. This way the buyer does not know anything happened. Using the pin number, scammers can watch the card activity online.

"They see, boom, there's $100 on that gift card. They're going to go online, and they're going to spend it or load it onto a different card and sell it online," Schmidt said. 

Schmidt says be careful which gift cards you buy. She says go for ones that are packaged or Visa cash cards instead. 

Schmidt also recommends buying gift cards directly from their companies, or from smaller businesses. If you're buying off the rack, go for the cards toward the back of the display. When all else fails...

"Cash is king, right? We all like to get cash," Schmidt said. 

That could help you buy the best gift of all: whatever you want. 

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