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WV AG warns of gift card scams during the holidays

December 20th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey impressed upon last-minute shoppers to exercise caution when they buy gift cards as Christmas gifts.
Thieves have been known to pilfer gift card racks. They will use handheld scanners to read the card’s magnetic information and any number on the front, after which they place the card back on display and wait for it to be activated.
Once the unknowing recipient activates the card, the thief can create a counterfeit gift card and make online purchases without having the actual card in hand.
“Gift cards remain a great gift idea, but anyone buying one should exercise caution,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Con artists are very slick in developing ways to steal money from the card. This leaves the gift recipient with nothing more than a piece of plastic, although such misfortune can be avoided with a bit of caution.”
The Attorney General suggests following these tips to avoid falling prey to gift card scammers:

  • Purchase gift cards from behind the customer service desk.
  • If selecting from a rack, select a gift card that is less accessible, such as the middle position on one of the pegs as opposed to the first one.
  • Watch for any sign of tampering, like a PIN number that has been scratched off.
  • Avoid purchasing cards from an online auction.
  • If the card is preloaded, ask for the card to be scanned to verify its full value.
  • Check for stickers placed over the legitimate barcode and ensure the barcode on the back of the card matches the number on the packaging.
  • Like any gift, the consumer should keep the receipt.

Consumers with questions regarding gift cards can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at

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