Many of us in the “miles and points” community buy Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or merchant-branded gift cards. However, there’s a scam that’s hitting retail stores nationwide, and everyone who buys gift cards in a retail location could be affected.
The thieves have found a way to rob you of your gift card balance. If you buy gift cards from a display rack that has various store and money (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) cards you may become a victim of theft. Thieves are now jotting down the card numbers in the store and then wait a few days and call to see how much of a balance “they” have on the card. Once they find the card is “activated,” (by you purchasing the card at the register) they go online and start shopping. You may want to purchase your card from a customer service person, where they do not have the gift cards viewable to the public.
Here are some other helpful hints:
- If you have to buy gift cards on a publicly accessible rack, take the gift card that’s last in the row, and not the one in the front.
- Always examine the front and back of the card to look for tampering. If you see any part of the package missing, or a secure number is viewable, find another card to buy.
- Always keep the store receipt, any activation receipts or proof, and the actual gift cards themselves (even if you use them) for a minimum of 90 days after purchase and use, that way if there is an issue, you have proof of your purchase.
As much fun as it is to travel, no travel is worth the price of a scam, and the countless hours it will take to get your money back (or sometimes not).
Have you ever been a victim of gift card fraud or theft?
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