PHOENIX — When you're not sure what gift to give this holiday season, you may want to think twice about choosing just any gift card.
Thieves are targeting gift card buyers, wiping them of their value before they are used for the first time.
Cleo Speckert says it happened to her when she purchased a $60 Amazon gift card.
"I went online and went to redeem it, and it was saying I have no money on here," said Speckert.
In some cases, scammers visit stores and write down the numbers from gift cards. They even scratch off the strip on the back, getting those numbers as well. They then place a replacement strip over the codes and leave the store.
The goal is to make it seem as if nothing has been done to the card.
As for Speckert, she says nothing appeared to be off about the card she bought.
"Nothing was tampered with," said Speckert. "It never occurred to me I would have a problem."
If you're headed to pick up a gift card:
- Try not to buy ones that anyone can access. Look for ones kept behind counters or with well-sealed packaging.
- Check for signs of tampering.
- Consider buying cards online. Criminals won't have access to those card numbers.
- Also, keep the receipt in case there are any issues.
If you find you've fallen victim to these thieves, contact the business the card is for and try contacting the store where you bought the card. They may be able to issue a refund.