MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s the most wonderful time of the year unless you get scammed.
“The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and gift-giving," Evey Owen, interim associate director of communications for AARP Alabama, said.
A new study from AARP found more than 70 percent of adults in the United States plan on buying gift cards as presents this holiday season.
“Gift cards are actually one of the top holiday wish list items and just so far in 2019, gift cards have been one of the top ways of payment during fraud and scams," Owen said.
For the 13th year in a row, the National Retail Federation ranked gift cards as the most popular item on Christmas wish lists this year. It’s that demand for gift cards that makes them a popular target for scammers.
“They’ll scratch off the pin number, get the pin number, get the card number, and they drop it into their system, and then when a nice person like you or I comes along to buy that gift card, as soon as it’s activated at the register, it flags in their system and then they can go use that gift card and drain all the funds," Owen said.
So, what can you do to avoid falling victim to this scam? Here are a few tips:
“You can either go online to that retailer’s website and buy it, or if you do need to go into the store, we recommend getting a gift card from behind the counter or near the counter. Be sure when you do buy it, be sure to look at the back of the card to make sure that nothing is peeled off, no numbers are scratched off and that it’s completely intact," Owen said.