7 On Your Side:Latest Warning Of Scammers Targeting Gift Cards
It appears to be a scam so new, police and shoppers themselves don't even know about it yet.
How does it work? Scammers write down the card number on the back of the gift card, wait a couple weeks and then call the toll free number on the card to see if it's been activated.
If it has, they go online and make purchases using the money on the gift card.
"You know the crooks are out there in force," warns Kay Robinson, President of the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas.
Robinson says a gift card is an easy target because they're so accessible.
"Many times you can go into a store and they're on a rack and you just purchase them!," she says.
We went to several different retailers and for some it would be pretty tough to pull off such a heist.
The Wal-Mart gift card number is concealed by a scratch off. Hidden with it is the pin number to access the money on the card.
On the Lowes, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and Starbucks gift cards, the card numbers are exposed. But the pin numbers are concealed by a scratch off.
We also went to Bealls and found the card number exposed with no pin number at all. This is a gift card we purchased and if someone jotted down the number in the store, they could easily call to verify the money on the card by calling the number on the back.
But because Beall's does not have an online website, a scammer would not be able to use the card.
The gift card we found is the biggest target, is the one bearing the same name.
To make purchases online at Target, you need the card number and access number. The Target cards show both numbers in plain view.
We brought this to the attention of Target's corporate office and they said, quote: "We have extensive procedures in place to foil fraudulent activity of gift cards purchased at our store and online at Target.com. Target has not been impacted by the gift card crimes recently covered in media stories."
But since Christmas hasn't arrived yet, only time will tell if the these cards numbers got in the wrong hands.
"They are looking for every way they can to get money out of people and not do it legitimately." says Robinson.
The last way consumers want to be taken out of the holiday spirit.
One piece of advice to note: take a card from the back of the display as opposed to one in the very front.
We did check with local authorities to find that no one has reported being victimized by such a scam here in East Texas.