Last year, U.S. consumers spent about $26 billion on gift cards, and analysts expect this number to rise in 2017. Most Arizona holiday shoppers like the convenience offered by gift cards. Traditionally, they are safe options because they allow recipients to shop for themselves. Gift cards also fit nicely into cards and travel well for those celebrating holidays away from home. Now, however, experts warn that hackers can easily compromise gift cards and use up the funds for themselves. This, of course, renders the gift cards useless when recipients go to spend them.
Granted, this type of scam is less scary that data breaches and cases of identity theft that leave personal information exposed and vulnerable. Of course, this type of crime won’t ruin anyone’s credit report or bring down credit scores. However, gift card fraud is highly inconvenient to Arizona consumers who just want an easy way to get through their holiday gift-giving list. Also, knowing a little about how hackers steal gift card information gives Arizona residents some insight into how scammers accomplish other types of fraud and identity theft.
How Fraudsters and Hackers Commit Gift Card Fraud in Arizona
Hackers in Arizona and other states use sophisticated measures to steal gift card numbers in bulk. Yet, scammers with minimal cybercriminal abilities can commit this type of fraud if they have enough patience. As most Arizona consumers know, gift cards are normally not under lock and key at stores. Retailers display them out in the open because modern gift cards are useless until they are loaded and activated.
Often, Arizona fraudsters steal stacks of gift cards from stores, take them home, and write down all of the numbers. Then, they sneak them back into the store, put them back, and wait. Retailers normally provide ways for customers to check gift card balances online. So, as soon as the compromised gift cards show signs of activation, scammers either use them to purchase goods or sell this information on the dark web.
Some gift cards require users to provide a PIN number, which is usually located on the back of gift cards, under a scratch-off strip. Those who commit gift card fraud in Arizona get around this detail by scratching off the coating, recording the PIN number, then replacing the scratch-off strip. How? These special labels – often used on lottery tickets – are widely available to purchase online.
How Holiday Shoppers in Arizona Can Avoid Gift Card Fraud
Normally, in the name of good customer service, retailers will refund the cost of compromised gift cards. However, it is a hassle when gift card recipients go to use their cards and discover that they are empty. Therefore, in order to avoid this holiday let-down, Arizona consumers should take a few precautions when buying gift cards.
First, carefully examine every gift card you purchase. If any of the scratch-off label covering the PIN number is missing, or if the sticker looks unusual, grab a different card. Also, if the paper board surrounding the gift card looks bent or manipulated in any way, pass this one over too. As a courtesy, you can take any suspicious looking gift card to a sales associate and explain your concerns. This might save others from giving or getting a disappointing holiday gift.
In addition, Arizona gift card buyers should purchase their cards from larger, well-known retailers if possible. More often than not, these companies are highly concerned with their reputations, and this means that they are more likely to take security measures to protect the integrity of their gift cards.
Making Identity Theft Protection a Top Priority in Arizona This Holiday Season
No Arizona consumer wants to deal with gift card fraud this holiday season, but identity theft is an even bigger threat to holiday shoppers. When you’re caught up in the excitement of this magical time of the year, it is easy to forget about basic safety precautions. This is why you should take some time to make sure that both your brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences are as secure as possible.
Here are a few identity theft protection reminders.
- Protect your PIN number while checking out at a store.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card whenever possible. This prevents fraudsters from draining your bank account.
- Always keep your purse or wallet within sight.
- Never shop from websites that are not completely secure.
- Avoid online shopping while using public Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, data breaches frequently occur. So, in order to stay on top of your account activity, check your bank and credit card statements regularly. It’s also a good idea to look at your credit reports and check for fraudulent accounts opened in your name.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) entitles Arizona consumers to request free copies of their credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. Also, the easiest way to get credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian is through www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only federally authorized free credit report website.
Free, Legal Credit Report Repair After Identity Theft in Arizona
If, while going over your credit reports, you spot signs of identity theft such as unauthorized accounts or bogus charges, file a police report immediately. You will need a copy of this police report in order to fully recover your credit reports. Next, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America in Arizona. We understand the credit report repair process better than anyone, and we know how to deal with creditors and the credit bureaus.
When you call, our team of credit pros will connect you with an experienced credit attorney who will get all fraudulent items removed from your credit reports – for free. You’ll get clean credit reports and it won’t cost you anything out of pocket. This is a promise that we stand by for all of our Arizona clients.
Don’t let identity theft damage on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? All of our fees come from the defendants in settled cases. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (480) 771-6001 or contact us on our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, please visit https://creditrepairlawyersam.com/arizona/fix-identity-theft/.