Make us your home page
Instagram

Protect yourself from gift card hackers

Retailers and consumer experts expect gift cards to be the most popular item people will receive this holiday season.

Con artists also know the lucrative gift card trade provides hundreds of millions of dollars to potentially pilfer from consumers. Thieves have devised various methods of "hacking" gift cards to steal the money before consumers use them.

Here are some ways to protect the money on the gift card you receive this holiday season.

How can thieves hack a gift card?

Thieves often record the numbers from gift cards in a store before a consumer buys it and create another card with the same information. When a customer loads the original card, the thief tries to spend the money first.

The thieves also buy card-reading devices to capture the card information and then use it to spend the money.

How can I protect myself from having my gift card information hacked?

An important way to protect your gift card is to inspect the card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed and that the codes on the back of the card haven't been scratched off to reveal an identification number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.

Also, buy from known and trusted sources. Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.

What if my gift card is lost or stolen?

If your card is lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. You may not recover any of the value that was on the card. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, but other issuers will, for a fee. You may need to show proof of purchase and the ID number on the card. Most issuers have toll-free telephone numbers you can call to report a lost or stolen card.

If I can't resolve a dispute with the retailer about my gift card, whom can I call?

There are government agencies that can help.

• For cards issued by retailers, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Or you may file a complaint with your state attorney general (for a list of state offices, visit www.naag.org).

• For cards issued by national banks, contact the comptroller of the currency's Customer Assistance Group by calling toll-free 1-800-613-6743 or sending an e-mail to [email protected] The comptroller charters, regulates and supervises national banks.

Protect yourself from gift card hackers 12/23/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 23, 2010 8:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  2. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Coming soon at two Tampa Bay area hospitals: a cancer treatment that could replace chemo

    Health

    A new cancer treatment that could eventually replace chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants — along with their debilitating side effects — soon will be offered at two of Tampa Bay's top-tier hospitals.

    Dr. Frederick Locke at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa is a principal investigator for an experimental therapy that retrains white blood cells in the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these so-called "CAR-T" treatments for adults this month. In trials, 82 percent of cases responded well to the treatment, and 44 percent are still in remission at least eight months later, Locke said. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program

    Banking

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]
  5. McDonald's soft serve in Florida is made with handshakes and happy cows

    Consumer

    Floridians licked nine million McDonald's vanilla cones last year.

    Calves play with a rubber toy at the Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee, FL. Owners Sutton Rucks, Jr., and his wife Kris Rucks sell their milk to SouthEast Dairies cooperative, Edward Coryn of Dairy Mix in St. Petersburg buys it, transforms it into soft-serve ice cream base, and sells it to all the McDonald's. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times