Avoid Gift Card Scams This Holiday Season

The Dos and Don’ts to Avoid Gift Card Scams This Holiday Season

The quickly approaching holiday season means it’s time to shop for gifts and avoid gift card scams. Many people buy gift cards because holiday shopping turns into a headache.People give, receive, and steal gift cards. Scammers target gift cards because there are multiple ways they can get their hands on the money. Scammers use exposed PINs, fake activation stickers, and gift card exchange sites to steal gift card funds.

According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards were one of the most popular holiday gifts last year, and will continue to be popular this year.

DON’T buy gift cards with exposed/scratched PINs. Scammers go to a store, scratch off the PIN, write it down, and drain the money once it’s activated by a legitimate purchaser.

Do check the activation sticker. Scammers overlay their sticker on the activation, which links to their own site.

DON’T make phone payments to someone asking for gift card payments. For example, don’t pay someone in gift cards who claims to work for the IRS, cellular company, or tech support.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, from January to September 2018, 26% of fraud reports named gift cards/reload cards as their payment method.


White and red gift box with gift card in front


DO use password protection if you’re sending an online gift card.This requires the receiver to enter a password to gain access to the gift card information.

DO keep the gift card receipts. This provides proof of the gift card amount and activation.

DO use gift card exchange websites that guarantee money back if you’re scammed. Some exchange sites allow people to send the gift card code and be paid before the site receives the physical card in the mail. Once the balance is confirmed, scammers will spend the gift card balance before the buyer receives the card or code. Raise.com is one site that has a money-back guarantee.

Make sure to read and share these tips with friends and family ahead of Black Friday & Cyber Monday! Happy shopping!

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