How To Protect Yourself From Buying A Drained Gift Card

Image courtesy of arvind grover

Gift cards are a popular present for all occasions, and are extra popular during the holiday season. However, one really terrible gift is a gift card that has been drained of its value. Here’s how to prevent that from happening so your gift recipient can buy the perfect present that they actually wanted.

Here are some simple tips from our card-guarding colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports:

Avoid cards from an accessible display. Yes, retailers love gift card malls, and they do offer an excellent selection of cards. However, they’re vulnerable to an especially pernicious scam. Scammers can copy down the card number and scratch off the strip covering the security code, then replace the scratchoff strip that goes over the security code. Software will tell them when the card has been activated and is ready to have its balance stolen.

Change the code. Another way to avoid the number-stealing scam described above is to change the card’s security code immediately after purchasing the card. Let the recipient know that you did that and why, of course, and give them the new code.

Buy gift cards online. This works especially well if you’re buying a large-denomination card: buy it directly from the retailer, if that’s an option, and ship it directly to you or to the recipient.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.