Better Business Bureau in B.C. warns of new barcode sticker gift card scam

Click to play video: 'Gift card scam catching shoppers off guard'
Gift card scam catching shoppers off guard
WATCH: The Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers to be vigilant about gift cards they're buying after a spike in scams. Emad Agahi explains – Dec 13, 2022

The Better Business Bureau in British Columbia is warning people of a new scam that tricks consumers into lining the pockets of scammers, instead of loading the gift card at the checkout.

According to the bureau, some scammers are taking empty gift cards home, reprinting their bar codes, and sticking them on top of other gift cards at the store. When a customer picks that gift card up and loads it at the cash register, they’re actually loading and activating a gift card that the scammer has all the information for.

The scheme could see the barcode for a $100 liquor store gift card placed on top of a $100 PlayStation Store gift card, for example, the bureau said in a Tuesday news release.

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“Scammers are always evolving their tactics,” said Simon Lis, president of the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland BC.

“If the customer pays for the card without double-checking the scanned item at the checkout till, the stolen empty card would’ve been loaded with money instead of their own.”

Click to play video: 'Consumer Reports: How to avoid holiday shopping scams'
Consumer Reports: How to avoid holiday shopping scams

When it comes to online shopping, the Better Business Bureau advised consumers to exercise caution around little-known websites that offer gift cards for popular retailers at deep discounts, and consider purchasing a gift card directly from the merchant instead.

Buyers should also steer clear of third-party websites that offer to check a gift card’s balance, as they often use the card’s ID number and PIN or security code to drain it of the cash, it said. The bureau recommends registering gift cards with the retailer, changing the PIN and using the money quickly, where possible.

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For a physical gift card, the organization encouraged consumers to simply take a closer look for any packaging tears, wrinkles or indications of tampering. If the PIN is exposed or anything else looks suspicious, take another card and flag the damaged one to staff, it said.


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