Gift cards can be a great Christmas present, but buyers should beware of how scammers can ruin the gift. Scammers count on the fact that those purchasing the cards often don't pay attention to a crucial detail.
Nicole Armsbury tells 6 News that she wants to warn other shoppers of the trick after she went to buy a gift card at the HyVee at 78th and Cass. "I picked up an Amazon card, and not even thinking about it, I turned it around and the tab on the back, there's the card number or the activation number or whatever it is, it was ripped off."
She checked about 25 other cards and, "They were all torn off," Armsbury said.
Jim Hegarty with the Better Business Bureau said crooks open the packaging of gift cards and steal the card number and pin. "They they try to put everything back together. Then you go buy it, activate it and they check it all the time to see if it's been activated, and the moment it activated, they use it."
Hegarty says thieves have hit other local businesses as well. "We did a report on an individual that received a gift card for $100 from Walmart. It sat around the house for about three weeks. They went to use it and there was nothing on it."
Buying sealed cards is one way to avoid the scam. Any package that looks messed with or touched by another person has the potential to be one of the targeted cards.
Catching the crooks isn't easy, so being a smart buyer could save some holiday headaches. When buying gift cards, inspect them carefully for the tampering and pick cards from the back or middle of the rack. Tampered cards are usually returned to the front of the stack and always remember to get a receipt.