Live 5 Scambusters: Don’t give an empty gift card

Live 5 Scambusters: Don’t give an empty gift card

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - As we get closer to Christmas, you may run out of time and find yourself buying more gift cards than actual gifts. These are easy gifts and easy targets for scammers.

Gift cards have become the new payment of choice for scam artists. At this time of the year, they don’t even have to ask you to buy them. The National Retail Federation says gift card spending should reach $27.6 billion this holiday season. On average, consumers will buy four cards worth roughly $45 each.

You want to make sure the money is still there when the card is finally used. The Better Business Bureau says scammers are stealing numbers off the gift cards and then taking your money before you know it’s gone.

A scammer will take a gift card off the rack, record the number from the card, and then put the card back on the rack. When someone buys the card, loads it with money, and activates it, the scammer can go online and drain the balance before the customer has a chance to spend it.

The BBB recommends checking the packaging and the card before you buy it. Make sure the numbers and PIN are not exposed. Scammers may scratch off or remove the covering to get the numbers. They may also attempt to cover the numbers again, so make sure the packaging hasn’t been doctored in any way.

It’s also a good idea to pull gift cards from the back or middle of the pack. Scammers are more likely to put cards back on the front of the rack so the next customer gets it. Also, select gift cards from well-traveled areas of the store, where scammers are less likely to tamper with the cards.

Finally, if you have the option, register your gift card. This will make it easier to keep track of any unauthorized use once you bought it.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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