Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Holiday Scam: Gift Cardjacking

I got an email from the University of Colorado police department this morning with a warning of a new scam. It appears that criminals are writing down gift card serial numbers, leaving the card on the hook to be purchased, then watching the gift card website to see when the card has been activated. Wow, if only these scum would put their innovative minds to good purpose.

The police memo recommended buying only cards from stick not displayed or cards whose serial numbers can only be revealed when a scratchable covering is removed.

Here's the email:
The CU Police Department would like to inform everyone in the campus community of a -gift card scam- that could make someone's holidays less than happy.
This information has been available for some time and has been reported in news sources such as the Wall Street Journal, but it bears repeating at this time of year when gift card purchases are common.

Information has been received from sources that indicate thieves have been going into stores and have been writing down gift card serial numbers from gift cards that are openly displayed for sale on racks or counters. The thieves do not take the card; rather they leave it for some unsuspecting customer to purchase. The thieves then periodically check the card web site to determine when the card has been bought, activated and a balance made available on that card for use. Once the balance is available, the thieves strike quickly, using the card number for online purchases and tapping out the card balance as quickly as they can, leaving the holder of the card with little or no value on the card.

Security experts suggest that if gift cards are purchased, that they be obtained from a stock of cards not kept out in the open or that the gift card has security features that would prevent this type of scam from happening.
Some gift cards have a scratchable covering over the serial number, and that covering is removed at the time of purchase, revealing the serial number. This type of card can help prevent such scams as it is easy to see a card that has been tampered with due to the serial number covering being missing at the time of purchase.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Apparently I didn't read the email all that closely, it did mention that the scam has been around for some time. Well I can't keep up with everything!