BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - You might want to think twice about buying gift cards this Christmas.
The Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana is warning consumers about a particular gift card scam going around after receiving calls about it.
Carmen Million is the president and CEO of the BBB of South Central Louisiana. She explained that while gift cards are an easy gift to give, consumers need to be careful about where they purchase them.
“Unfortunately, there are scammers who go to particular stores especially if they have the gift cards that are in an open space that is unprotected and they will get the numbers off the card,” said Million. “They will then wait a day or a week or so and they will remove every penny off of that card. Of course that unsuspecting buyer doesn’t realize it. They give the gift card and the person goes to use it and there’s nothing on it.”
Here are some tips to avoid getting scammed this holiday season:
- Before purchasing a gift card, be sure to give it a thorough look to make sure the PIN number isn’t exposed, or the packaging hasn’t been tampered with. If anything looks suspicious it’s best to grab a new one.
- Scammers are impatient and will usually put the gift card toward the front of the rack, so it’s best to grab a card from the back.
- If the retailer allows the option to register your gift card, take full advantage. Registering your gift card makes it easier to keep track of any misuse occurring, that way you can report it sooner and potentially end up saving the money that is stored.
- If you lose your gift card or someone steals it, it’s best to report it to the issuer immediately. Some issuers may not allow you to recover any of the funds, and some will, but for a fee. You may need to show proof of purchase and the ID number on the card.
- It’s best to double check the terms and conditions, the expiration date or any fees tied to the gift card before you decide to purchase one. Some stores charge service or setup fees, or limit the gift card to in store only, meaning you can’t use it online. Some states have laws relevant to gift cards; you can check with the office of the Attorney General in your state for more information.
- If you decide to place your gift card online, use caution. Usually the buyer will ask to three-way the merchant to verify the card is active and has a remaining balance. While listening, the buyer records the touch tone numbers entered to intercept the gift card number, and then they use the gift card without even paying for it.
- If someone asks to listen to your balance inquiry, or wants to look over your shoulder while you enter the numbers, it is most likely a scam.
If you think you are a victim of this scam, contact the Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana by calling 346-5222.