If you gave or received a gift card this holiday season, you should be aware of gift card draining scams that can turn your gift into a disappointment. This article gives you an overview of how to safely enjoy gift cards and answers the burning question, “What is a gift card draining scam?”

What is Gift Card Draining?

A card draining scam, also known as gift card draining, is a tactic criminals use to steal the money loaded onto gift cards. Scammers scan the card number and PIN from an unpurchased gift card. Then, when an unsuspecting shopper buys that same card and loads money onto it, the scammer swiftly uses the stolen information to drain the funds, leaving the buyer with an empty card.

Top 3 Tips to Help Avoid Gift Card Draining Scams

Look for Signs of Tampering on the Gift Card

Before buying a gift card, inspect the packaging closely. Is it ripped, taped up, or tampered with in any way? Look for scuff marks or scratches around the PIN area, especially on cards where the PIN is hidden under a peel-away layer. Pristine packaging is a good sign that your gift card has not been tampered with. And it’s always a good idea to grab a gift card from the back of the stack, not the first one on top as it’s at higher risk of being tampered with.

Keep Your Receipt

Don’t toss your purchase receipt! It’s your proof of purchase and can help you get a refund if your gift card has been drained. This way, you can replace the gift card and have evidence of the exact dollar amount loaded onto the card.

Report Compromised Gift Cards

If you suspect your card has been drained, immediately contact the retailer or gift card issuer. Explain the situation and follow their instructions for reporting the issue. It is helpful for the retailer or card provider to be aware of the scam so they can work to prevent additional card drains in the future. Also, the sooner you act, the better your chance of recovering your funds and replacing the gift card.

How IdentityIQ Can Help

While vigilance is key, sometimes even the most cautious shoppers can fall victim to scams. That’s why it is always best to use a robust identity theft protection service. IdentityIQ offers a complete collection of resources for protection, prevention, and restoration. With features like 24/7 credit monitoring with real-time alerts, identity theft insurance of up to $1 million underwritten by AIG, full access to VPN and antivirus software on multiple devices, family protection plans, and more, IdentityIQ offers the best protection available.

Bottom Line

Gift cards should be a source of fun, not stress. Scammers are looking to take advantage of gift cards by making purchases with your money. However, awareness and a watchful eye can help you prevent becoming a victim of gift card draining scams. For extra protection from card draining scams, identity theft tactics, and more, create your IdentityIQ membership today. You can have confidence that your finances and personal information are well protected.