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Phony site drains the balances on gift cards

December 31, 2018 GMT

If you receive a gift card this holiday season, watch out for this scam. According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, a website claiming to help check gift card balances is really a con. When you enter your card’s information, scammers use it to access and drain your gift card.

How the scam works

You receive a gift card and want to check how much money is on it. You search online and find a website that claims to do just that. All you need to do is enter the card’s ID number and PIN or security code. Very easy!

You don’t even notice you’ve been scammed until days, or months, later. When you try to use the gift card, the store clerk or website said the balance is gone! Scammers used the information you provided to the gift card balance check website, to drain the money off your card.


Avoid gift card scams

Go to the retailer’s website. If you need to check a gift card balance, go to the site listed on the back of the card itself. If there is none, go to the website of the company and look for a link to the gift card page.

Use gift cards right away. A good way to avoid scams and other issues is to simply use gift cards soon after you receive them.

Examine the gift card before buying. Before purchasing a gift card, be sure to give it a thorough look to make sure the PIN isn’t exposed, or the packaging hasn’t been tampered with.

Register your gift card with the retailers. If the retailer allows the option to register your gift card, take full advantage. Registering your gift card makes it easier to keep track of any misuse occurring, that way you can report it sooner and potentially end up saving the money that is stored.

If you’ve been targeted by this scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience to BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker). To learn more about other kinds of scams, go to BBB Scam Tips (BBB.org/ScamTips).