The growth of the secondary market for gift cards has prompted the FBI to warn consumers about the potential for fraud.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3 — a partnership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center — said in an announcement that victims include people who bought and sold gift cards on auction websites and gift card exchange websites.
The announcement notes that gift cards can also be resold in person at kiosks and pawn shops.
The IC3 is also warning consumers of the potential for gift card fraud on social media websites, specifically via “social media postings that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, especially sites offering deals too good to be true, such as a free $500 gift card.”
The IC3 offers the following tips for avoiding gift card fraud:
- Check secondary gift card market website reviews and only buy from or sell to reputable dealers.
- Check the gift card balance before and after purchasing the card to verify the correct balance on the card.
- When selling a gift card through an online marketplace, do not provide the buyer with the card’s PIN until the transaction is complete.
- Be leery of auction sites selling gift cards at a discount or in bulk.
- When purchasing gift cards in a store, examine the protective scratch-off area on the back of the card for any evidence of tampering.
The announcement does not name any particular online gift card exchanges or auction websites.
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