Experts warn that scammers are stealing barcodes from gift cards and are waiting for customers to load the card with money.
SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KABC) -- Gift cards are typically hassle-free and a convenient choice of gift, especially during the holidays. However, as the popularity of these cards increases, so does the risk of being scammed.
"It's called gift card draining and these scammers have found several slick ways to victimize unsuspecting shoppers," said L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn.
Hahn held a press conference in San Pedro Thursday after becoming a victim of the gift card-draining scam. She says she purchased a $100 Visa gift card for her nephew and found out all the money had been drained from the card. Now, she's calling on retailers to prevent this from happening.
"Take them out from the open, put them behind a customer service desk or behind glass. If you can't do that, I'm asking you to train your checkout clerks to be able to spot these fake barcodes," Hahn said.
Experts warn that scammers are stealing barcodes from gift cards and are just waiting for customers to load the card with money.
"The scammers are putting their label on top of this one. You scan it or you click the barcode and now they're asking for your information. Now, the other way is they're tampering with the perforation on the back and now they've got that number," said Steve McFarland, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
Federal Trade Commission data shows gift card scam losses totaled more than $228 million last year. That's a slight decrease from 2021 reported losses, but an increase of more than $100 million from 2020.
"What do you do if you've been scammed? If you saved your receipt you can call the 800 number of that carrier. To file a complaint, you can go to ftc.gov," McFarland said.
Before purchasing, examine all gift cards for any signs of tampering. And if a gift card appears to be suspicious, it's best to find another one or alert store personnel.
"Just make a general inspection to see if it's been tampered with," McFarland said.
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