Skip the Rack: 4 Ways to Avoid Gift Card Swindlers

AARP Fraud Watch Network warns holiday shoppers of gift card scams

Holiday scammers

Holiday shopping often means long lines, crowded malls and hunting down popular items that sell out this time of year. Gift cards are one of the easy solutions to avoid some of the shopping chaos, but consumers should be cautious when purchasing these cards.

During the holiday season, scammers secretively write down or electronically scan the numbers on gift cards displayed on the racks at grocery stores and pharmacies. Then, they continuously check the activation status of the cards online or over the phone; once it is activated, they will drain all of its funds.

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In an AARP Fraud Watch Network survey on holiday scams, experts found that only 54 percent of shoppers know that cards purchased in stores are not safer from hackers than gift cards purchased online. With 58 percent of survey respondents reportedly purchasing gift cards this season, here are four key takeaways to ensure a safe card purchase:

  1. Straight from the source: Get your gift cards directly from the store they are from, and ask the cashier to scan the card to ensure the balance is correct.
  2. Back of the rack: If you are purchasing the card from a rack or grocery store kiosk, choose one that is toward the back. If you are at a smaller merchant, try asking for a gift card that isn’t already on display.
  3. Register the card: Many retail stores allow you to register your gift card on their website, where you’ll be able to keep track of the balance and have a record of the card being in your possession.
  4. Save your receipt: If your card is a victim of fraud, you may be able to get a replacement card with your receipt.

 

 

See more tips on holiday giving from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network:

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