Beware of Gift Card Scams – Don’t Fall Victim

   In a world where technology is often used for convenience, gift cards have become the number one choice when it comes to gifts. According to Forbes , $29 billion was spent in 2013 on gift cards. That’s about 85% of holiday shoppers purchasing them during the Christmas season. With that much money being put into these cards, they are a prime target for scams.

As a popular “gift,” scammers will try any possible way to get their hands on others’ hard-earned money through different schemes. One common type of scam is by getting people to purchase cards from fraudulent websites, which could lead to stolen personal information or even identity theft.

Don’t fall victim of Gift Card scams

You might think you’re smart enough not fall victim to these schemes, but some of these fraudsters are becoming more clever as to not arouse suspicion.

            This is what a typical type of scheme will look like:

You receive an e-mail from a friend or family member saying they have sent you a gift via your email address. When you click on the link it takes you to a website which looks legitimate. The user will select the card they wish to purchase and enter in their personal information, including credit card information. Once this step is complete, the scammers change the amount of money put on the card or even swap out cards for ones with less value than original cards selected.

While your info may be secure when purchasing through certain online retailers like Amazon , when buying the gift card through the fraudulent site your credit card information is not secure.

            Though these may look like very convincing websites, there are some slight differences that can help you identify if it’s a scam. There are ways to protect yourself from falling victim of these scams; here are some tips:

     – Look closely at the URL bar when trying to purchase cards on unknown sites. The name of the retailer might be misspelled or end with “.co” instead of “.com.” 

     – When purchasing online, only buy gift cards directly through retailers’ official website (it will usually end in .com ). Some scammers will create websites that appear to be reputable companies where they will request personal information and then use it to steal money.

     – If you receive a gift card for a holiday or birthday, look closely at the packaging to make sure it wasn’t tampered with. Most legitimate companies will double-check their products before they leave the warehouse and seal them in anti-theft packaging. Some thieves have been known to replace boxes of legitimate cards with used or counterfeit cards that can easily be detected as fakes by looking at the back of the box where you should find a scratch-off security code, PIN number, or unique ID from inside the package.

Note: Many official retailers may also offer discounts for buying online rather than in stores so if their website appears cheaper than any competitors this could indicate a fraudulent site as well.  

Although it may be hard to spot these scams, they are easily preventable. Just use some common sense and you’ll most likely avoid falling victim to these criminals.

You can also check the 10 Popular Gift Cards In USA and Canada

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