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4 Ways Thieves Use Gift Cards to Commit Fraud

4 Ways Thieves Use Gift Cards to Commit Fraud

Gift cards, no matter the benefits they come with, must be taken care of if you don’t want anything bad to happen with the funds that they have on them or with the funds you decide to put on them.

It’s true, you may think that there is no actual way someone could get a hold of your gift card and use it in your place – moreover, most retail stores ask for your ID card as well, in order to check that the actual owner of the card is using it.

However, there are several ways through which thieves can use your gift card in order to commit fraud – and, most of the times, they don’t even have to touch or effectively use the gift card.

Here are four of the ways through which thieves can use your very own gift card to commit fraud – be careful to the information you give out in regard to your card and report if you have lost it; you’ll soon see why.

Buying a Gift Card for Sale

You might be looking for discount gift cards to buy, but you have to make sure that the seller is reliable and trustworthy – better go with a reputed website that sells them instead of an individual.

However, a thief might try to buy a gift card as well – case in which you also have to make sure that the person you are selling it to can be trusted. Why? Because, in most cases, the buyer a.k.a thief, will require a three-way call between you, the provider of your gift card and the buyer – in order to make sure that they get a legit card, seemingly.

Instead of actually buying the card, they’ll write down the information you’ll give to the provider, which can be later used to find out the card’s number and PIN – then, they will proceed with selling your gift card online, even though they’ve never bought it.

Steal and Return

How bad can a stolen gift card be? Well, it can be very bad if the one that has stolen it records the card’s number and PIN. They will steal a card, record this information, and then return it to the provider, claiming that they just found it and wanted to return it.

However, the very same card will go back on the shelf, waiting for its next owner – as soon as the next person to own the card activates the funds, the thief will use the card’s balance to make purchases online, even if they don’t even know where the card is or who has it.

Stolen Merchandise in Exchange for Cards

As a part of a bigger scheme, a thief may steal merchandise on display and then return it and exchange it for store credit. This may sound only like petty crime, but some fraudsters out there will do this so many times that they’ll eventually be able to use their gift cards in order to buy drugs, more gift cards, or even sell these for a lot of cash.

After all, they just steal merchandise and get money for doing so – this is why store owners must be very careful when someone comes in to return an item.

Duplicate UPCs

Yet another complex scheme, UPC duplication implies that the thief creates multiple UPC barcodes that are identical for a certain gift card. Then, these UPCs will be applied to some of the cards that can be found in the store, over their existing codes.

Basically, someone that buy a gift card with a duplicate UPC will add balance to the thief’s gift card instead of theirs – when the thief has just enough money to make a purchase that he/ she wants to do, they’ll do so as soon as possible.

This is why it is better to do some form of double-checking/ online checking of your gift card before you start adding funds to it.

References and Sources


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