Scary Holiday Gift Card Scam: Don't Get Fooled

gift cardsOh technology, sometimes you are not our friend. Gift cards have made it easy for us to give people exactly what they want from their favorite stores. But what if you show up with your $50 gift card only to watch it come up empty when it's swiped? Oh no, it's the latest holiday scam!

New York Senator Chuck Schumer is warning the public about this swindle. He says, "The system many stores use is a free buffet for scammers and crooks that can leave unsuspecting victims with a valueless piece of plastic junk Christmas morning!" He wants companies to hide the codes or keep cards behind the counter. So how does this scam work? And is there anything you can do to protect yourself?


Most gift cards have an activation code printed on them. A crook can capture those codes before the gift cards are sold. Then the scammer uses the activation code to spend the money the purchaser eventually puts on that card. The purchaser and the recipient lose. 

As for what you can do, SIGH. Not a whole lot, but there are a few things. First, buy gift cards that are kept out of reach from scammers, or that come with the activations codes concealed. Make sure anything meant to conceal those codes hasn't been tampered with at all. You could also buy gift cards online and avoid the whole issue. But it's looking like pulling a gift card off the store rack is a dangerous gift option this year.

Of course, you could always just BUY A GIFT YOURSELF instead of sending someone off to the store with a card. Right? But those gift cards are just too satisfying for both the giver and the receiver. I love knowing someone is going to get EXACTLY what they want, and I think people love dodging that orange and purple polar fleece they might otherwise end up with. So we're just going to have to be extra careful this year.

Are you planning to give anyone a gift card this Christmas? Where did you get yours?


Image via robinsonsmay/Flickr

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