West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey warns consumers to be selective and cautious when making last-minute gift card purchases as the clock ticks toward Christmas.
“Gift cards make for an easy present while still giving the recipient the option of picking out something themselves,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, it’s important to make sure you or the recipient of the gift card doesn’t get ripped off.”
Thieves have been known to pilfer gift card racks. They will use handheld scanners to read the card’s magnetic information and any number on the front, after which they place the card back on display and wait for it to be activated.
Once the unknowing recipient activates the card, the thief can create a counterfeit and/or make online purchases without having the actual card in hand.
Attorney General Morrisey suggests following these tips to avoid falling prey to gift card scammers:
- Purchase gift cards from behind the customer service desk.
- If selecting from a rack, select a gift card that is less accessible, such as the middle position on one of the pegs as opposed to the first one.
- Watch for any sign of tampering, like a PIN number that has been scratched off.
- Avoid purchasing cards from an online auction.
- If the card is preloaded, ask for the card to be scanned to verify its full value.
- Like any gift, the consumer should keep the receipt.
Consumers with questions regarding gift cards can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online atwww.wvago.gov.