Gift Card Stripping

In this scam thieves use an inexpensive scanner to read the code behind the magnetic or scratch-off strip on the back of a preloaded gift card, which along with the number on the front of the card, enables them to steal the value of the card.  They return the worthless card to the rack where an unsuspecting customer buys it.  Or if the card is not preloaded, the thief can call the 800 number on the card every few days to check the balance and spend it before the customer does.  You can protect yourself from this scam by doing the following:

  • Don’t buy a card that looks like it’s been handled or tampered with. If the card comes in a sleeve, make sure it’s not crinkled or torn.
  • Only buy cards that are behind a customer-service desk.
  • Ask the cashier to scan a preloaded card to make sure the full value is on it.