Scammers can spend money on your gift cards without you knowing - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL


Scammers can spend money on your gift cards without you knowing

Source: WBRC Source: WBRC

Do you have any gift cards under your Christmas tree? Scammers can spend money on your gift cards without you even knowing it.

And the level of their sophistication is growing.

Every year retailers sell billions of dollars’ worth of gift cards. If you plan to buy one, hackers may have already beat you to it. Thieves are writing down the activation codes of gift cards then putting them back on the shelves and waiting on someone to buy them.

"Scammers have an opportunity to scratch the pin number off the back so that they can write down the number of the card and the pin number and then they are notified by this very sophisticated

software of the minute money is loaded onto that card and they immediately steal it and take it out," David Smitherman, with the Better Business Bureau of Central and South Alabama said.

Usually you can't redeem the cards for cash, so crooks find ways of laundering the money by turning to sites like Ebay. We're told the bad guys place ads on items they don't own yet then buy the items online with the stolen cards then have the items shipped directly to the buyer and receive cash from the sale.

Hackers are also skipping the gift card racks and going directly to sites where you can look up your gift card balance. Consumer Reports says hackers are using botnets, a network of internet connected devices to steal your information.

"These sophisticated software packages that they are running can look at millions of cards an hour and they are just constantly running every sort of combination of numbers until they hit them," Smitherman said.

To avoid the headache, the Better Business Bureau says stay away from gift card racks. If you must buy one, make sure the cards are sealed. Smitherman says safest way is to buy the cards is from behind the counter.

"You might want to think about ordering those gift cards directly from the retailer so that you are receiving those door to door from the retailer and they haven't been sitting on a rack in that store," Smitherman said.

You can report gift card scams to the Better Business Bureau here:

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