CONSUMER

Police warn of gift card scams victimizing holiday shoppers

Dec 22, 2023, 10:53 PM | Updated: 10:56 pm

TAYLORSVILLE — Police are warning of a huge scam that holiday shoppers are falling victim to and potentially passing on the problem to the people they’re buying gifts for.

Scammers are manipulating gift cards, making it so that the money loaded on them is going straight to the thieves. By the time shoppers realize the money is gone, it’s often too late to trace it back.

In Taylorsville Friday, shoppers rushed into Walmart and Target, picking up last-minute Christmas gifts. Aaliyah Topete walked out with two other women, shopping carts loaded with toys. They were gifts for the family grandkids.

But Aaliyah knows that the best gifts are sometimes the smallest ones.

“It’s really simple and easy just to get a gift card,” she said.

In fact, Aaliyah had asked her dad for a gift card to Ulta.

Scammers are cashing in on some of those sales, leaving unsuspecting gift-givers like her father potentially falling victim.

At the Taylorsville Police Department, Detective Steve Jensen held up a gift card from a local Target and explained that it had been tampered with. The card had been re-glued onto the packaging.

An example of one of the gift cards glued back together and placed back on the shelve.

An example of one of the gift cards glued back together and placed back on the shelve. (KSL TV)

He described how thieves will steal cards, carefully open them, write down the code, reseal them, then restock cards on store shelves.

“They’ll keep spreadsheets. They’re using software now, these bots that will alert them to when any funds are loaded,” Jensen said.

As soon as someone loads the card, scammers will drain it. If the person gives it as a gift, it’s likely that the gift giver and recipient will have no idea until the recipient tries to use the card.

“You’re at the grocery store, or you’re going to pay with a gift card at dinner and come back to find out there’s insufficient funds,” Jensen said.

Another gift card scam tactic: Creating a fake barcode that goes back to the scammer.

“Individuals will put new stickers onto these gift cards, and the barcode doesn’t match the one that’s inside the package,” Jensen said.

The money is never even loaded onto the card.

“When you activate your card after it’s been hung back up, it’s going to go right to their card. You have no idea,” he said.

Positively 50+: Protecting yourself against ‘charity scams’

With an average gift card purchase of $300, Jensen urged shoppers to stay vigilant. While any gift card can be tampered with, he said that Vanilla Visa gift cards are especially vulnerable.

“When you buy that physical card, it is risky,” he said. “But if you do, you got to make sure you’re inspecting it, make sure the sides are all evenly put together and they’re not glued.”

He said shoppers need to make sure there are no stickers over the barcode as well.

“If you can, try to go through the store and ask them to get you a fresh card out of the back,” he said. “I know Target assists people with this a lot.”

Or better yet, he said, don’t buy a physical gift card at all. Jensen suggested purchasing a digital gift card online.

Aaliyah is hoping that her dad hasn’t shopped for her yet.

“That’s his hard-earned money, and also it is drained? That will be very sad!” She said.

She thinks a tangible gift might be better to ask for.

“Probably just go in stores more,” Aaliyah said. “Just can’t really depend on the card anymore, it seems like.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Consumer

Matt Gephardt being shown the double payments that Terry Hutchings has been getting....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps homeowner being charged two bills for one security system

Billing for a previous home initially stopped when she sold it, but when she got a new security system from the same provider for her new place a year later it started billing for both.

2 days ago

The Utah State Hospital sign in Provo, Utah....

Daniel Woodruff

A developer has big plans for the Utah State Hospital property

The latest effort to move the Utah State Hospital for a new development plan has failed this legislative session.

2 days ago

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced February 29 that Heritage Store Hydrogen Peroxide ...

John Towfighi, CNN

Mouthwash recalled nationwide over poisoning risk

One brand of hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is being recalled nationwide for posing a potential poisoning risk for children.

2 days ago

FILE: Vivint Doorbell Camera (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)...

Haleluya Hadero, AP Business Writer

Some doorbell cameras sold on Amazon and other online sites have major security flaws, report says

Consumer Reports says some doorbell cameras sold by Amazon and other online retailers have security flaws that could allow bad actors to view footage from the devices or control them completely.

3 days ago

crayons...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah Legislature approves allowing more children at unlicensed day care facilities

A bill in the Utah Legislature that aims to allow unlicensed providers to care for up to eight children instead of six passed the house and senate. It now awaits Gov. Cox's signature.

3 days ago

Neilson-Berg explaining the hassles and trouble she has been going through to get into contact with...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt helps Google Fiber customer get her internet fixed after customer service calls go nowhere

When a Salt Lake City woman's internet connection went down, and she couldn't get a straight answer as to when it would be back up, she decided to Get Gephardt.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Police warn of gift card scams victimizing holiday shoppers