Holiday Scam Alert: Gift Card Stripping



If you give a gift card this season, you could be susceptible to a fraud scheme.

If you give a gift card this season, you could be susceptible to a fraud scheme.

Gift cards are one of the most popular presents of the holiday season, but could they lead to disappointment from the recipient? Maybe. Beyond suffering through the usual, “gift cards show that you put no thought towards what I might like” speech, they may also make you susceptible to fraud.

Gifts cards are easier to compromise than you may think. They have no shelf value, no owner’s information and no way to be traced. All a fraudster has to do is buy a scanner, scan the gift cards on the shelf to retrieve the card information, and then wait for them to be purchased.

How do they know if the cards have been purchased?  Easy. The status and value can simply be checked online. Once you’ve purchased it, the fraudster is able to buy products online with the stolen information on the scanner.  Most gift cards are purchased well in advance of the holiday, so the fraudster has plenty of time to shop and spend the available resources on the card before it is even opened.

There are steps you can take to prevent yourself from falling victim. Most retailers have cards that are either under registers or not on the shelf yet. Ask a sales associate for one of those cards. This will minimize the possibility of it being compromised.  If the card looks compromised or has been handled a lot, then do not purchase it.

Kit Powell
Certified Fraud Examiner
616.735.3104
kitp@hscompanies.com