Consumer alert: Holiday gift card scams to watch out for

Despite the convenience and popularity of gift cards, scammers are ready to take advantage of consumers who purchase gift cards during the holidays. Experts say that if consumers are not observant, scammers can steal from unsuspecting shoppers. 

Financial Adviser Robert Allamon said people are a bit more trusting during the holidays, and so they let their guard down, allowing scammers to take advantage.

If you want to keep your money safe this holiday season, Allamon said, you need to pay attention to the gift cards you buy.

“Scammers will go into a store, take a gift card off the shelf and they are able to scratch off the pin number, record that pin number and then they have stickers they bought online and cover that pin number back up.”

Making sure there is no tampering with the card or pin number on the back is crucial when keeping your money safe. Allamon says, to also stay away from the racks of gift cards and head for the register to buy one. 

“You want to really purchase near the customer service area because a lot of times those card racks are out in the general aisle and people aren’t really watching those as closely. Scammers can oftentimes filter in cards that way," Allamon said. 

Not only can you be scammed at the store when it comes to gift cards, you need to protect yourself online too.

Here’s what to look out for. If you see an online ad or receive an email offering a free gift card, don’t click on the link.

Scammers will also try sending emails saying you’ve won a free gift card, but need to send money to cover the shipping and handling.

This time of year promotes a lot of commerce and you can be a little bit less protective of things like personal information.

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