Consumer Watch: Gift Card Scam Warning

Wednesday, November 10th 2010, 10:02 pm
By: News 9

Amanda Taylor, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Consumer Watch team has a warning about a Christmas gift scam. The gift cards you're buying for friends and relatives could be worthless.

Gift cards have become a go-to Christmas present. But they've also become a go-to target for thieves.

Scammers can steal the money loaded to a gift card through "stripping."

According to Consumer Reports, crooks use a cheap hand-held scanner to read card strips at the store, then put the gift cards back on the rack.

They hang on to the card numbers and call the 800-number on the back of the cards to find out which ones have been activated. Then they have all the information they need to spend the balance of the card before the recipient does.

Here's some tips to avoid this scam:

-Gift cards on grab-and-go racks are the most vulnerable, so stick with cards at or behind the register.

- And if you're buying a pre-loaded card, ask the cashier to scan it, to make sure the full value is on it.

-Always hang on to your receipt. It can help you get a refund.