LEE COUNTY, Fla. – For the holidays, sometimes a gift card is the perfect present, especially when you're not entirely sure what someone really wants.
However, there’s a new gift card scam that wipes your card clean before you can give it away as a present.
The Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers of the new scam this holiday season.
They said scammers write down the gift card number and PIN still in the store. They wait until its purchased and activated and then scammers use up the entire balance without you even knowing it.
They said the scam is most likely happening at retail locations, like grocery stores, gas stations and supermarkets where cards are left on the racks unattended.
According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers are expected to spend $27.6 billion this holiday season on gift cards.
Scammers know that, making that easy present a popular target.
The BBB suggest the following tips to protect your money:
1) Inspect the gift card before buying it.
2) Grab a gift card from the back of the rack where they are less likely to be tampered with.
3) Examine it and make sure the PIN number has not been messed with or exposed.
4) Buy your gift card at the store, not from a third party because the card could end up being expired or have zero balance.
The BBB also said there’s a website out there that claims to help you to check the balance on your gift card but in reality, it just steals the money off of your gift card.
They didn’t release the name of the site but the BBB shared suggestions on what you can do to protect your gift card.
They said if you want to check your gift card balance, go to the website listed on the back of your card.
If there isn't one, go to the company’s website and look for a link to the gift card page.
They said if the retailer allows the option, register your card. It makes it much easier to track any misuse and report it sooner.
You can report a scam online through the BBB scam tracker.