BBB spokesperson recommends buying gift cards online

Gift cards: Popular holiday item & target for scammers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While gift cards might seem like an easy option as a holiday present, it's also an easy way for scammers to gain access to personal information.

There are two key things to look for before you've even purchased a gift card. First, take a look at the PIN. If it's already been scratched out, tell an employee of the store and pick out another.

Also, Tom Stephens with the Better Business Bureau says to check the account number.

"Make sure that number is the original number, that there isn't a piece of tape put over it," Stephens said.

Stephens said there are a countless number of ways scammers can tamper with a card.

"Probably the best way (to protect yourself) is to buy cards online," Stephens said. "It's much harder for them to tamper with if they don't have access to it."

Stephens says to avoid gift cards that are resold at a lower price.

“There’s a good chance if you’re buying really cheap discounted cards, there’s a good chance that it’s stolen or the money on that card came from stolen merchandise," he said.

The Retail Gift Card Association recommends purchasing cards from trusted sources and known brands.

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