Scammers target gift cards, online purchases - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Scammers target gift cards, online purchases

Updated:
Scammers are using gift cards before they're handed out as Christmas presents. Scammers are using gift cards before they're handed out as Christmas presents.
Check the security code on the back of gift cards you plan to buy for signs of tampering. Check the security code on the back of gift cards you plan to buy for signs of tampering.
"Copycat" websites are also growing in popularity to scam shoppers. "Copycat" websites are also growing in popularity to scam shoppers.
INDIANAPOLIS -

Police are warning shoppers about a growing holiday rip-off targeting anyone buying gifts.

"Most of our teenagers will get gift cards, iTunes," said shopper Karen Galin.

"Actually, a lot of my gifts are gift cards. It's easier," said Cassie Cole.

But it's now easier to steal your gift cards. You may leave the store with the card, but before you even selected it, a thief may have picked it off the rack days before, copied down the security codes then later called a toll-free number to find out when the card is finally activated by your purchase. Then, before you can even put it in a stocking, the crook has already used it on the Internet.

"People can steal from you anyway they can, so I'm not surprised," said Galin.

"It does make me want to not use gift cards and they're mainly what I use," said Cole.

For safety, experts say make sure the security cover over the card number hasn't already been peeled back. Or ask the clerk for a card that's been kept behind the counter.

"I hadn't heard that, so that's nice to know," said Shirley Gingrich.

Shirley does most of her shopping online. She checks out websites before using them. She's heard of scams like the one that got Cassie's friends.

Cole says it involved "a house for them to stay in in Colorado and it was a scam and they lost a bunch of money from it. Looked legit though, yeah."

Copycat sites can be very convincing. Experts say look for a customer service phone number and an email address and use them to see if they're real. The scam sites are usually short on details about products. Real sites even list their officers' names and store locations, so look for lots of detail.

"Done that also," said Gingrich, who tries to avoid being taken.

Also, before punching in your credit card number, make sure the address on the browser is the same one you clicked on and you weren't sent somewhere else.

Powered by WorldNow