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beware the gift card scam :: tips from justin lavelle of been verified

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A few years ago we received a gift card from a relative for Christmas and when we tried to use it there was a zero balance. This always struck me as odd, but because it was a gift I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. When I received the below tips from Justin Lavelle of Been Verified about a current favorite way for crooks to steal those holiday gift cards it ‘clicked’ and I just knew what had happened to that gift card we had received. If you’re thinking about giving the gift of choice this holiday season here is some important information to keep in mind to save yourself from falling prey to these crooks!

Turn on the news and you’re bound to hear a headline of a new scam being pulled off by thieves and hackers. One day they’re posing as the IRS trying to obtain your confidential information and the next day you find out about a credit card breach at a store you recently visited. Long gone are the days your only concern was a stolen wallet. The unfortunate news is there’s yet another scam to be aware of and it involves the previously innocent gift card.

Leave it to fraud thieves to find yet another way to scam you. Now these crooks are going after your gift card balance. One day you’ve got a substantial balance and the next time you go to use it, it’s at a zero balance. Thieves target gift card display racks, grab a stack of gift cards, snap a photo of the back of the card or jot down the card numbers in the store and wait for the cards to be activated. They then call to find the available balance and go online shopping. It’s not only frustrating, it’s the height of violation. Below Justin Lavelle of BeenVerified offers his best tips for preventing gift card fraud from happening to you:

7 Important Tips to Prevent Gift Card Fraud—

  • Only purchase gift cards that are sold from behind a counter by a salesperson, not on display racks. Have the store cashier scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you just charged it with.
  • Scammers know that gift cards are a common present during the holidays and are prepared to scam you right after the holidays. This year opt for cash, a check or another gift instead of gift cards.
  • Do not buy gift cards that are being sold on auction websites. Since this is a large source of gift card fraud, these cheap gift cards may well be worthless to you. There’s a good chance they are stolen, counterfeit or used.
  • Buy gift cards directly from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s website. If you do buy a gift card online, make sure you buy it from the place where you plan to use it.
  • When purchasing gift cards, carefully examine both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you can see a PIN number, put the card back and get a different one. If a gift card looks like it could have been tampered with, don’t buy that gift card.
  • Your receipt is your proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card. Since many retailers can track where the gift card was purchased, activated and used, if the card is stolen, some retailers will replace the card for you if you have your receipt.
  • If a retailer offers registration of your gift card on their website, use this benefit straight away. Although not all stores offer this option, you can uncover any misuse of your gift card sooner and report it more quickly.

Justin Lavelle is Communications Director at BeenVerified.com where he often writes about scam prevention. BeenVerified is the fast, affordable, and easy way to access to public records and search for people. Find out ages, marital status, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, criminal records, and more.


Beware the gift card scam this holiday season

*I have in no way been compensated for sharing the above information from Justin Lavelle at Been Verified but I hope that the information helps at least one of our readers this gift buying season!*

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  • Renee Rousseau
    December 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Great hints at a busy and rushed Holiday season to remind us we must still remember security measures.

  • Alina
    December 8, 2016 at 9:12 am

    This is a great post. I passed the information along to my sis-in-law who always purchases gift cards for the holidays. I wasn’t even aware of the scam of taking photos of the cards information. UGH…..you can’t ever be too secure.

  • Kristin C
    December 8, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Thanks for the tips, I would feel awful if a gift card I gave had no balance on it.