Expired Cards and Data Collection are among Holiday Gift Card Heartbreaks
To find that “perfect gift” for the holidays, sometimes it is easier to give a gift card to allow friends and family to choose for themselves. However, Connecticut Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be careful where they get gift cards and what information they provide to receive them.
In one scam, emails supposedly from well-known companies and organizations tell the recipient that they have been chosen, as part of a nationwide promotion, to receive a gift card worth as much as $1000. The email contains a link to a website that asks for cell phone numbers and other personal information, including Social Security and bank account numbers to claim the card. Other emails contain links that download malware into the recipient’s computer.
Con artists also use social media, websites and online classified ad sites such as Craigslist to sell or trade gift cards. The problem is that some people use these platforms to sell stolen or expired gift cards or fake cards that are of no value whatsoever.
To avoid getting cheated in a gift card scam, Connecticut BBB recommends:
Buy gift cards directly from a retailer - Don’t click on a link to a retailer website. It could be a fake or lookalike site. Instead, type the retailer’s web address into your browser, or pick up the card in the store itself. Thieves often watch mail for items of value during the holiday season, including gift cards.
Don’t buy cards that are within reach of customers – Scammers can swap legitimate gift cards in decorative holders or envelopes with fake ones when the cashier isn’t looking. Ask the seller to check the balance on the back of the card to make sure it is authentic and hasn’t been used.
Avoid cards if their number is exposed – If you can see the card’s number, so can everyone else, and in some cases, that’s all they need to empty the card’s balance.
Most gift cards have a toll-free telephone number or website you can use to register a card, check its balance or to file a report if the card is lost or stolen.
You can find gift card regulations that are specific to Connecticut at the Office of the State Treasurer at http://www.state.ct.us/ott/giftcardlaw.htm.
-Submitted by Howard Schwartz Executive Communications Director, Connecticut Better Business Bureau