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LCSO warns of gift card scams

By Staff | Dec 3, 2015

Gift cards are a great way to express your gratitude to a co-worker, family member or friend during the holiday season, especially when long lines and crowded malls are the norm. Although gift cards are an easy solution to avoid some of the shopping chaos, it’s important for you to know that scammers aren’t thinking twice about being nice, but instead are being very naughty when it comes to tricking consumers, and here’s how they’re doing it:

Fraudsters rely on gift cards being displayed and readily available on the racks at grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and others. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, the thief will copy the numbers, codes and information from individual gift cards, then place them back on the rack for someone to purchase. Periodically, they will check the activation status of the compromised card(s) either online or over the phone, and if a consumer has loaded the card with funds, they will use the codes they obtained earlier to drain the card of its cash.

To ensure a safer card purchase and reduce your risk from this scam, consider following these steps:

Straight from the source: If possible, get your gift card directly from the store you are choosing.

Examine the card before purchasing: Look for signs of tampering such as scratches on the card or exposed PIN numbers.

Scan the card: Ask the cashier to scan the card to ensure it has the correct balance.

Save your receipt: If your card has been used fraudulently, a paper receipt may help you recover stolen funds.

Online auction sites: Be careful when buying gift cards on online auction sites. They are known to be used by scammers to peddle counterfeit gift cards.

If you spot signs of this scam while shopping notify the store manager immediately. For more information, contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud line at 258-3292.

Source: Lee County Sheriff’s Office