Everything you need to know about gift cards scams in 2008

Josh Smith

With the gift giving season in full swing it's no doubt that many consumers will turn to gift cards for hard to buy for friends or as last minute gifts. While there are many caveats regarding gift cards, including inactivity fees and the ease with which they are lost, sometimes they are the best gift for the situation. But you need to know how to avoid common gift card scams and issues.

One of the most prevalent types of gift card scams involves the activation process. An unscrupulous employee can swipe a card first and then swipe the gift card you are "purchasing". By swiping their card first, they end up with an excellent stocking stuffer while you're left with a hunk of plastic. This scam can be done by sleight of hand but many times the clerk will disguise the extra swipe as a step in the activation process.

To avoid being taken by a gift card activation scam make sure the number on your activation receipt matches the gift card the cashier hands you. You can also check the balance at another register or call the card balance hotline before you leave the store.