The internet age came with all its privileges and convenience, but it does not exclude the opportunities and gateways for the intrusion of cyber attackers and scammers who prey on the ignorance of many.

Gift cards have become predominantly useful and famous today for the innumerable advantages people earn from using them. In fact, some people argue that gift cards are preferable to cash. For this reason, many online scammers have improvised tactical ways to steal this treasure of the fintech community today. 

You may not have had any experience of such, but who knows? It could happen to you any day and any moment; this is why we have compiled the different gift card scams you should beware of in 2022 and onward.

Latest 6 Gift Card Scams You Should Be Aware Of

1. Stolen Gift Card Number

Gift card scams mustn’t necessarily be carried out online; some go as far as walking into retail stores to carry out the operation. The scammer or thief, in this case, removes a gift card from where it’s being displayed, scans and records the card number with a magstripe reader, which is used to read the number saved in the magnetic stripe of the gift card, reinstates the gift card and leaves the store.

The scammer then waits for a customer to purchase the violated gift card as he checks the balance online until a certain amount of money is loaded onto the card. Having all the details, the scammer uses the gift card number online or even generates a duplicate plastic gift card that can be used in stores. It is advisable to select gift cards at the rear part of the counter; they are most likely not to be touched by anyone.

2. Fake Gift Card Activation Website

Usually, a gift card must be activated before it can be used. The activation website address and all necessary information are typically listed on the back of the card or a sticker across the front. 

To activate the gift card, you need to visit the activation website and enter the necessary details like the gift card number, expiration date, and card verification code(CVC), before using the gift card. Gift card scammers deploy a means of preying on their victims by creating fake websites with almost the same web addresses, knowing that victims will land on these fraudulent sites rather than valid activation sites.

They also manipulate the activation website keywords to ensure the fraudulent sites rank high on search engines; hence, ignorant users would see it as a reason to trust the site while searching.

3. A Demand For Official Payment

This scam is prevalent and funny to people familiar with the tricks. 

Someone may contact you while claiming to be a representative of the Federal/State Inland Revenue Service (FIRS/SIRS), the police, or another government parastatal. This caller would try to scare you into purchasing gift cards to pay for taxes, renew your license or other legal issues.

This is a hoax even if the caller is familiar with your secret documents and reads them to you. No government entity requires payment with a gift card, not even a Visa gift card.

4. Using Bots To Steal Card Details

Scammers use the services of GiftGhostBot, a bot used to scan a store’s online gift card balance check system for a match. That is to say that the bot searches for a valid gift card number with an activated balance. When the bot finds a match, scammers can use the gift card or trade it on the dark web.

Contact the gift issuer immediately if your gift card balance is drained. The best way to avoid this gift card scam is to use gift cards directly after receiving them.

5. A Dubious Cashier

Sometimes the cashier at a store is an accomplice to the scam. Do you know how?

Imagine you buy a gift card from a department store, and the cashier activates the gift card, but instead of returning it to you, she replaces it with one that hasn’t been activated. The cashier then keeps the activated card and offers you a blank card. The cashier can then make purchases with the activated card that you purchased or even sell the gift card.

The best and possible way to avoid this is to keep an eye on the cashiers as they check you out. 

6. Fake Online Auction 

Sometimes you may be enticed to purchase gift cards from online auction sites. Please, don’t do it because gift cards that haven’t been activated at these sites are sold by scammers most time. You may get an invalid gift card by the end of the day, thinking you got a good deal by paying less than the face value of the card. 

Others inflate the value of the gift cards they sell, and at the end of the transaction, you’d discover you got a significantly less valued gift card. They may try to convince you that the gift card is worth $100 while the actual balance is $25. 

If you want to avoid this scam, then never purchase gift cards from an online auction site; only do so directly from the retailer selling such gift cards.