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Protect Yourself From 'Gift Card Draining'

Shoppers beware: A scam called 'gift card draining' targets cards at brick-and-mortar stores – before they're sold.

BECU and its partners have noted a concerning surge in a fraudulent activity known as 'gift card draining,' posing significant risks to shoppers.

The criminal scheme involves stealing gift cards from stores, copying down the information, then replacing the stolen card on the shelves. Once the cards are activated by the gift card recipient, the scammer uses the stolen information to rapidly make purchases or "drain" the card.

Protecting Against Gift Card 'Draining'

Shoppers can take measures to avoid falling victim to this scam:

  • Inspect the gift card for evidence of tampering and ensure the packaging is sealed.
  • Ensure the protective cover and tape covering the pin are intact.
  • Immediately register the card online, if possible, for potential refund protection.
  • Encourage prompt use of the gift card to minimize fraud risk.

Keep the receipt in case the gift card is found to have been compromised. Immediately report compromised cards to the gift card company directly. You may request a freeze on the card and a refund.

'Gift Card Imposter' Scams 

Gift cards are a favorite target for scammers. 'Gift card imposter' scammers deceive victims by posing as friends, family, or trusted entities through urgent texts, emails or phone calls. They manipulate victims into sending money or gift cards under the false pretense of aiding them or resolving trouble.

If someone urgently demands payment in gift cards, it's likely a scam, regardless of the approach they use. Learn more about 'gift card imposter' scams.

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