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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Con uses phony balance check website to drain gift cards

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

If you received a gift card this holiday season, watch out for a scam that keeps popping up in several areas around the country.

According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, a website claiming to help check gift card balances is really a con. When you enter your card’s information, scammers use it to access and drain your gift card. Be safe with those gift cards you have received this year and don’t get scammed.

How does this scam work?

You receive a gift card and want to check how much money is on it. You search online and find a website that claims to do just that. All you need to do is enter the card’s ID number and PIN or security code. You don’t even notice you’ve been scammed until days – or months – later. When you try to use the gift card, the store clerk or website said the balance is gone. Scammers used the information you provided to the gift card balance check website to drain the money off your card.

The Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific has these tips to avoid gift card scams:

Go to the retailer’s website: If you need to check a gift card balance, go to the site listed on the back of the card itself. If there is none, go to the website of the company and look for a link to the gift card page.

Use gift cards right away: A good way to avoid scams and other issues is to simply use gift cards soon after you receive them.

Examine the gift card before buying: Before purchasing a gift card, be sure to give it a thorough look to make sure the PIN isn’t exposed or the packaging hasn’t been tampered with.

Register your gift card with the retailers: If the retailer allows the option to register your gift card, take full advantage. Registering your gift card makes it easier to keep track of any misuse, allowing you to report it sooner and potentially saving the money that is stored.

For more information

If you’ve been targeted by this scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

To view full business profiles, head to the Better Business Bureau’s website at www.bbb.org. You can also learn more about other kinds of scams by going to BBB.org/ScamTips.

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