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Gift card scams have been on the rise in recent years, with scammers using a variety of tactics to separate unsuspecting individuals from their hard-earned money. They are a popular choice for gifts because they allow end users to purchase what they desire within the brand/s of the gift card. However, this convenience also makes them a prime target for scammers.
One common scam involves placing a barcode sticker on top of the actual barcode on a gift card and placing it back on the store’s shelves. This allows the scammer to access the funds on the card before the victim can use it. If you dabble in gift cards, also be aware of ‘phishing scams’ – where the scammer will send a fake email or text message with instructions to “activate” the gift card or to “claim” a prize. However, the link leads to a phony website designed to steal personal information, such as name, address, and credit card details. Perhaps more prevalent in the points community is the “sellers” scam – the scammer will claim to be a legitimate seller of gift cards, often offering cards at a discounted price. However, when the victim pays for the card and receives it, they will find it is invalid or has a much lower value than the scammer claimed.
Here are some tips to help you evade these scammers;
- Scrutinize the physical gift cards, especially around the bar codes. Do not purchase if you notice tampering of any kind.
- Purchase gift cards from reputable retailers. Please avoid third-party websites or unknown individuals, as they are more likely to be fraudulent.
- Register your card (if available), and monitor your balance and transactions regularly.
- Keep your purchase receipt until the balance has been utilized in case the card is later determined fraudulent.
- Do not take pictures of or post photos of your gift cards online. It happens more than you think.
If you are keen on purchasing gift cards at a discounted price, lean into the closed Buy-Sell communities created by fellow points enthusiasts. Attend local meetups and events to network with fellow enthusiasts and build meaningful relationships that help each other grow in the hobby.
Do you have helpful tips to evade gift card scams? Share with a comment below.