Consumer Alert: Avoiding gift card scams near the holidays

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Time for holiday shopping is running low and that may have some people concerned. A quick solution for last minute gifts? Gift cards. But gift cards are a new easy target for thieves.

It all has to do with that scratch off security strips on the back of the cards.

“You know that once pin numbers are exposed anybody can redeem the card, a scratched gift card is probably no good,” said Becky Worley, technology expert at ABC News. 

But what if the strip was scratched off, used, and replaced without you even knowing about it?

A quick Google search, can pull up replacement scratch off stickers for only $10 on eBay. This is what thieves use to make it look like the card you’re buying at the store is brand new.

A thief would then go home, periodically check to see if someone had bought the care, loaded it up and as soon as they saw the gift card had money on it, they would drain that card.

Tech experts say there are a few simple steps you can do to protect yourself.

First, buy gift cards that are kept behind the counter. If you have to buy from an open rack, make sure to grab them from the middle of the stack of cards.

Second, register the card online when you get home and if possible change the security pin.

Lastly, if you’re buying gift cards online, be sure you’re buying them from reputable gift card exchange sites that guarantee that a card hasn’t already been drained.

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