YOUR MONEY: Beware of gift card scams

Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 5:34 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gift cards are convenient because the person receiving it can buy whatever they want, but gift cards also give scammers an opportunity to take the money loaded on that card.

Carmen Million is the CEO and President of the local Better Business Bureau. She said this is a common scam especially during this time of year.

“People buy a gift card, they lose it or they go to use it and there’s no money on it and they aren’t sure what to do,” explained Million. “In a lot of cases they will go back to the local store. Unless it’s a local store brand, if it’s a Visa or Mastercard, the local store is not going to make it good. You’re going to have to contact the number on the gift card to get some kind of resolution.”

Million recommends buying a gift card or an electronic gift certificate from a local business. Not only are you supporting a small business during a tough year, but you might have a better chance of getting that money back.

In some instances scammers will go to the store and write down the gift card number, PIN number and expiration date hoping an unsuspecting victim will buy that gift card and put money on it.

When the scammer checks the card balance later on and see it’s been loaded they will drain the funds from it.

“You have to look at where you are purchasing the card. I will tell you there are certain stores that I don’t purchase gift cards from because they are not protected. There’s no oversight on those cards so you really need to be cautious,” she said.

Here’s something else to keep in mind this year, you may not be going in-store as much to shop. If you have a gift card or gift certificate that is about to expire call the store where it was purchased to see if they will extend the expiration window so you can still use it.

Also, this year many business owners are struggling financially. The pandemic has hit restaurants, spas, stores and other small businesses hard so here’s one way to help them out.

“What we recommend is that if people get a gift card to use it quickly. So, if someone has stolen the number you can still use it and maybe have the money, but also you want to make sure that if there is an issue you can turn it in,” Million explained. “Then in some cases we’ve had some people who have purchased a gift card and in this climate you don’t know the company is going out of business – the gift card is no longer any good so it’s voided so you really want to use the gift card as quickly as possible.”

For more tips on how to avoid gift card scams CLICK HERE.

If you would like to report a scam CLICK HERE.

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