Holiday Gift Card Scam: Fraudsters Draining Funds With Stolen Activation Codes

A holiday gift card is a quick and simple way to cross someone off your gift list. Unfortunately, it could also be worthless. Senator Chuck Schumer warned holiday shoppers today that scammers are stealing the activation codes and going shopping with your Christmas money.

Schumer told the NY Daily News:

“The system all too many stores use now is a free buffet for scammers and crooks that can leave unsuspecting victims with a valueless piece of plastic by Christmas Day.”

The Gothamist reports that holiday scammers are focusing on stores that sell gift cards off the rack. The activation numbers are concealed by a scratch off strip but thieves are able to acquire the code using a mag strip scanner. Then, in a day or two, they call the gift card phone number to make sure that the card has been purchased. After that they can go shopping with your gift card money online.

Schumer said:

“Most of these systems don’t require a password, so it is very easy for the scammer to do this. Other times the scammer is able to steal the PIN at the same time as the gift card number.”

Schumer wrote a letter to the National Retail Federation and the Retail Gift Card Association asking them to use better packaging for gift cards. Schumer also recommended for stores to only sell gift cards from behind the counter.

The Inquisitr reported last week that another scam involving iTunes gift cards being sold online could lead to malware infections.

Are you worried about your holiday gift cards?