December 20, 2018

Don’t get scarred by gift cards… – WST

Gift cards are certainly better to get in your stocking than a lump of coal.  Unfortunately, the thieves that deserve that lump of coal are trying to get the better end of the deal.  By the time their scam is realized, it’s already too late.

That gift card you purchased at the store might be all used up before you even give it to the recipient.  The thieves will take the information down from the card and wait for it to be activated at the register.  They will check the balance often and once they find it is active, the card is drained of its funds.  What can you do?  Use the card quickly after purchasing it.  If the card has been compromised; keep your receipt and contact the retailer, you may be able to recoup some of your losses.

Many cards will require a PIN that has to be scratched off to reveal a code to be used with the card number.  This can delay a thief, but not entirely.  The scratch-off area can be easily recovered with a sticker.  What can you do?  Inspect the card before purchasing.  If it appears to have been tampered with, pick a different card and alert the retailer.

Thieves are an impatient bunch.  Oftentimes they will record information from a card and then return it back to the original location in the store.  Often the tampered card will be put in front of others, as they hope for a quick return on their devious investment of time and skill.  What can you do?  Inspect any card you take but avoid taking the card in front.

Be on the lookout for fraudulent sites offering to check the balance of your card.  Phishing or fraudulent ads may offer a convenient link or phone number to check that gift card balance.  As with a credit card, always follow the information on the back of the card, or contact the company offering the card directly to check your balance.

Past Weekly Security Tips – WST