Consumers should beware of gift card scams

By Cristina Galvan


Consumers can save time and buy someone a gift card for one of their favorite stores, but consumers should be careful.

Gift cards also take the worry out of not knowing whether or not the person likes another gift.

They could be purchased at almost every store and at many large supermarkets.

Markets have small sections stocked up with gift cards to stores and restaurants.

This makes it even more convenient.

You could pick out a gift card while buying groceries and save yourself a trip to another store.

Gift cards seem like a good idea until a person becomes a victim of gift card fraud.

Last Christmas, my brother gave my sister and me gift cards to a major department store which were bought at a supermarket.

Along with the gift cards, receipts of the purchase were included so we could know they were activated.

A few days after Christmas, my sister was going to purchase makeup at the department store only to be told at the register that her gift card had no value.

To make sure, and to save myself embarrassment, I called customer service to see how much money my gift card had.

When I called, my gift card only had $4 even though I never used it.

After calling customer service, my brother was told that the gift cards were used at a mall far away which we never go to.

After trying to get the gift cards replaced, we were turned down.

My brother lost his money and we were left with gift cards that had no monetary value.

This is problematic when buying or receiving gifts.

The website says that “Crooks use a cell phone camera to record serial numbers from gift cards on store racks.  They wait a few days, then periodically call a toll-free number to see if any of the cards have been activated.”

I have purchased gift cards for friends and family many times.

I have also received many gift cards, some which I have used for school purposes such as buying school supplies.

Companies and stores that sell their gift cards need to take bigger measures to ensure the safety of their products.

This is a scenario where one is not sure who to place the responsibility upon; the supermarket selling the gift cards or big retailers that allow their gift cards to be sold at other locations and still make their money.

For example, supermarkets that sell gift cards should place them behind a counter or behind glass where the only people who have access to them are the employees.

Both companies need to take extra precautions because sometimes people who receive these gift cards might desperately need them.

To take extra precaution, gift card buyers should drive to the actual store where they want to buy the gift cards or maybe give cash instead of gift cards.

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