Santa hats and pumpkins may be back in the shed, and the last bit of glitter finally got out from New Years', but holiday scams proceed to haunt us way after the jolly season.
Gift cards make a great gift and remove the burden of what to buy, promising the recipient will get what they want. This makes them a trendy gift, and it can be hard to keep track of which card you have used for what and where. Different companies and vendors allow you to check your balance in the shop or on their website, but what happens when lurking scammers try to steal your balance?
One of the popular post-holidays scams is the gift card balance scam. Scammers post malicious sites to "easily check all your gift card balances," but in fact, what happens is that they steal your balance. While typing in the gift card vendor, ID, PIN, and other relevant details, cybercriminals can use these details and duplicate your card, emptying your balance. Not only will they empty your gift card balance, but they could also use the personal information you provided to hack into various accounts.
If you got a gift card from a known company such a Target or Amazon, be careful from going to phishing sites posing as the real ones. It's easy for scammers to duplicate the site appearance.
How to avoid the gift card balance scam:
- Check your gift card balance directly from the website of the vendor or company. If they don't have an option, call or contact them via email to find out the best way to do this.
- Don't click on ads or email links informing you about your balance, or pushing you to check all your gift cards in one place.
- Look out for false advertisements of "doubling your balance amount," it's fake.
- Never give your gift card PIN or personal details to anyone.
- Browse with a protection tool that will detect when you are about to enter a fake website.
- Always check the URL of the website you are using. If you are checking your Amazon gift card balance, make sure the URL is amazon.com and not a phishing site.