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Gift Card Warning


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Gift Card Warning


It’s a good bet you’ll get one, buy one or both – we have a consumer warning about those ever-popular gift cards.


A thief can suck the value out of a gift card – while it’s still in your wallet.


If you’re out of time or out of ideas, the gift card can be a life-saver. Last year, gift cards accounted for $60 billion in sales. But you aren’t the only one interested in the money on the card – so are crooks!


Walk into any store and chances are, you’ll find them. This year, they’re even in grocery stores, where there are dozens of cards from assorted retailers all in one spot. Convenient? Sure – but it can also be a one-stop shop for thieves. They don’t have to steal the card, just the number on the back.


“With the card number only, the criminal could make an online purchase or a telephone purchase – a purchase where the card would not have to be shown,” said Postal Inspector, David Anderchak.


Channel 2 checked out cards at local stores and saw just how easy it could be.


Once you buy a card, it’s activated. The thief who copied down the number before you bought it, can go online or call the 800 number to check the balance.


“The consumer would be unaware the card was used while in their possession,” said Anderchak.


Holiday shopper, David Barnes of McDonough is concerned, but that’s not stopping him.


“I’ve heard of it, but I’m hoping it’s okay,” said Barnes.


We told Barnes we were shooting undercover, then showed him how to find tamper-proof gift cards.


If the numbers aren’t hidden by a protective cover, look for cards that have a scratch-off security code. Also, experts advise: Use the card quickly. The longer it remains idle, the greater the chance of fraud.


“If there is a problem, we’re probably not going to see it until January or February after the holidays,” said Anderchak.


If you are shopping for a gift card, another option is to buy it with a credit card – if somebody steals the number, you can dispute the charge.

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