COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The holiday season is among us and gift cards are an easy, and wanted, gift for many.
With that comes scammers ready to take advantage.
One of the more popular ways scammers are getting to your gift card before you is by gaining access to the pin number. Here's how it works: scammers will visit stores and write down the card and PIN number. After they see it's been bought, they hop online and use up the balance.
Experts say the key is to check the card to see if the wrapping has been tampered with or if the PIN has been revealed.
"What we found is that when gift cards have been tampered with, usually it means the scammer has your PIN number. So when you, the consumer, go to activate that gift card the scammer will then use the gift card instead of you using it," said Michelle Gleba with the Better Business Bureau.
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from scammers:
First, try and buy the gift card online directly from the retailer or restaurant. Second, make sure there are no stickers over the bar code; that's a common red flag that someone's already got access to your card. Third, try to buy gift cards that have secure packaging around them. Fourth, go online and redeem the gift cards right away if you can.