Gift Card Scams On the Rise: Tips to Protect Yourself

Image of "Don't Get Scammed" written on chalkboard

Gift cards make great holiday and birthday presents. However, cybercriminals also have their eyes prowling on them. According to cybercriminal experts, gift card scams aren’t a new thing, and they’re not exclusive to big cities. Online shoppers are now at a greater risk of falling victim to gift card scams as several websites and online stores roll out gift cards and promise big discounts.

According to the National Retail Federation estimates, more than half of Americans plan to buy gift cards during the holiday season. Additionally, an average holiday shopper plans to purchase three or four gift cards this year. They also plan to spend about $47 on each of them. That totals about $27.5 billion in holiday gift card sales in 2020 alone. It’s obviously the reason cybercriminals increasingly target gift cards.

Robotic Gift Card Scams Infiltrate Work Emails

In 2019 and the beginning of 2020, cybercriminals unleashed a robotic gift card scam targeting work emails. According to one user, the emails were tailored to impersonate close acquaintances or workmates. The emails requested that you buy them gift cards with a promise to repay, but don’t. Since the emails were generated by bots, replying to the emails resulted in absurd responses. This served as proof that the scammer was actually a bot. But the fact that these emails got into work emails suggests that the attack was intentional. By further responding to the emails to test if it’s truly a bot, you could ultimately fall victim to the scam. It’s best to just avoid handing out personal information online unless you’re totally sure of the source asking for it.

Tips to Avoid Gift Card Scams

Here are some ways to secure the gift cards you give or receive this holiday season:

  • Buy Gift Cards Online. Make sure you buy your gift cards directly from chain restaurants, retailers, or other issuers. Criminals often find it hard to access those cards. Double-check the web URL to be sure it’s the official website of the issuer.
  • Avoid Buying In-store Cards Using Easily Accessible Numbers or PINs. If you must buy a gift card from a physical store, opt for ones kept behind the counter or in properly sealed packages.
  • Avoid Gift Cards with Tampered Packages. If the gift cards are sold in open racks, be sure to inspect the barcode numbers to see if there’s any duplicate or if the packaging has been tampered with.
  • Change Security Codes. Whenever you receive gift cards, change the security code and PIN as soon as possible.
  • Secure your Computer. Cybercriminals can also access your gift card numbers and PINs by hacking into your computer. Keep the security software on your gadgets updated. Create a strong password, and enable multifactor authentication on all your online accounts. 

More importantly, don’t take too long before redeeming your gift cards. The longer the card sits around, the more likely cybercriminals can steal the balance. With Prepaid2Cash, you can quickly and safely turn your gift cards into cash. Download the Prepaid2Cash app from the App Store or Google Play to convert your prepaid cards and gift cards into cash in as little as 15 minutes.