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Gift Cards Are Easy Scam Targets During Holidays, Senator Warns

By Sonja Sharp | December 18, 2011 6:58pm
iTunes gift cards on display
iTunes gift cards on display
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Senator Chuck Shumer issued a warning to last-minute holiday shoppers over the weekend about a new scam targeting gift cards sold at drug and convenience stores. 

Lo-tech scammers are able to grab the ID numbers off cards on display, wait for unsuspecting victims to activate them and then quickly drain the accounts, Schumer warned.

He said that the access code on the back of the cards can easily be discovered by scratching off the protective film or opening the packaging in many cases, moves that sometimes go unnoticed.

Cards for Old Navy, GAP and Banana Republic, as well as the always-popular iTunes were especially at risk because their access codes are more easily accessible than those with full packaging, the senator noted. 

Schumer urged chains selling the cards to consider shifting them behind the counter.

"The last thing we want is for someone on Christmas morning to be excited about their gift only to find out days later that some scammer has already used the card, leaving you with a worthless piece of plastic," Schumer said in a press release. 

The senator also urged buyers to check packaging around any gift card they buy, so gift-gettters aren't left with a lump of coal.

"Consumers should keep a watchful eye on the gift cards they are purchasing to ensure they haven't been tampered with and retailers should work to make gift cards more secure from potential scammers," Schumer said.