The holiday season is upon us and shoppers are crowding malls and discount stores to buy the latest gadgets and find the best deals.
But what shoppers are neglecting is their safety. This time of year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the larger crowds and the extended store hours. These factors and the usual distraction of shopping, creates a more favorable environment for petty thieves and other offenders.
During this time of year, busy holiday shoppers become careless and vulnerable to other crimes as well. Credit card fraud and gift card fraud are on the rise. However, taking a few preventive measures can help.
Gift Card Fraud:
- Never buy gift cards from online auction sites. This is a large source of gift card fraud. Many of the gift cards are stolen, counterfeit or used.
- Only buy gift cards directly from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s website.
- Don’t buy gift cards off of publicly displayed racks in retail stores. Only purchase gift cards at the sales terminal from the cashier.
- Always carefully examine both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you see a PIN number, ask for a different card. If the card looks like it has been tampered with in any way, put it back.
- Always ask the store cashier to scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you just charged it with.
- Always keep your receipt as a proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card.
- If possible, register your gift card at the store’s website
- Never give your Social Security number, date of birth or any other unneeded private information when purchasing a gift card. No reputable company will ask for this information.