Giving Gift Cards for the Holidays? Buyer Beware! Protect Yourself with These Tips

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Image via Flickr/ Karen Lee
 
It's that time of year! Everyone is scrambling to find the perfect gifts from the important people in their lives from friends and family to favorite teachers and even the letter carrier. According to Synchrony Financial, gift cards are at the top of many people's lists this holiday season. Gift cards make great gifts because of the flexibility they offer the recipient – and they are so easy to buy!
 
But, turn on the news and you’re bound to hear a headline of a new scam being pulled off by thieves and hackers. The unfortunate news is there’s yet another scam to be aware of and it involves the previously innocent gift card. 
 
Below Justin Lavelle of BeenVerified offers his best tips for preventing gift card fraud from happening to you:
 
7 Important Tips to Prevent Gift Card Fraud —
  • Only purchase gift cards that are sold from behind a counter by a salesperson, not on display racks. Have the store cashier scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you just charged it with.  
  • Scammers know that gift cards are a common present during the holidays and are prepared to scam you right after the holidays. This year opt for cash, a check, or another gift instead of gift cards.
  • Do not buy gift cards that are being sold on auction websites. Since this is a large source of gift card fraud, these cheap gift cards may well be worthless to you. There’s a good chance they are stolen, counterfeit, or used. 
  • Buy gift cards directly from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s website. If you do buy a gift card online, make sure you buy it from the place where you plan to use it.
  • When purchasing gift cards, carefully examine both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you can see a PIN number, put the card back and get a different one. If a gift card looks like it could have been tampered with, don’t buy that gift card.
  • Your receipt is your proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card. Since many retailers can track where the gift card was purchased, activated and used, if the card is stolen, some retailers will replace the card for you if you have your receipt.
  • If a retailer offers registration of your gift card on their website, use this benefit straight away. Although not all stores offer this option, you can uncover any misuse of your gift card sooner and report it more quickly.
So, don't be shy about purchasing gift cards this season – just be smart about how you do it!

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Giving Gift Cards for the Holidays? Buyer Beware! Protect Yourself with These Tips

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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