As the holiday season approaches, Michigan residents should be aware of a new gift card scam that has already affected shoppers in Missouri and Illinois.

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The scam involves criminals stealing gift card information and draining the funds before the cards are even used.

The scam starts with thieves removing gift cards from store racks, obtaining the card information, including the PIN number, and then returning the cards to the racks.

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When unsuspecting shoppers purchase and activate these gift cards, the funds are transferred directly into the scammer's bank account.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
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Another variation of this scam involves fake barcodes placed on the back of gift cards.

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Infographic, FBI
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When the card is scanned at the register, the funds are sent to the thief's account instead of being loaded onto the gift card.

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To protect yourself from gift card scams, follow these tips:

  • Inspect gift cards before purchasing. Look for signs of tampering, such as torn or resealed packaging, or stickers placed over the barcode or card number.
  • Purchase gift cards directly from retailers, chain restaurants, or other issuers
  • Be cautious of anyone demanding payment via gift card. No reputable company or government agency will ever demand payment in this manner.
  • Report any suspicious gift card activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Gift Card Scam is just another in a long line of attempts by criminals to rip you off.

Check out these other scams and how to avoid falling victim to them.

LOOK: The biggest scams today and how you can protect yourself from them

Using data from the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, Stacker identified the most common and costly types of scams in 2022.

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