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Michigan AG warning that gift card scams are on the rise

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Michigan Attorney General’s office is reminding consumers to be on alert for gift card scams.

According to the Better Business Bureau, a new scam is on the rise in Missouri and Illinois, and now seems to be occurring in Michigan as well.

Scammers will remove gift cards from store racks, steal the information on the back of the card, including the PIN number, and return the cards to the rack. Then, when a shopper purchases and activates the gift card, the funds are directly deposited into the scammer’s account.

Another version of the scam involves placing a fake barcode over the actual barcode on the back of the gift card. When this happens, the cashier will scan the fake barcode, which then sends the money into the scammer’s account instead of being loaded onto the gift card.

Authorities say there are steps consumers can take to protect themselves. Be sure to inspect the back of any gift card you purchase. Look for evidence of tampering, such as torn or resealed packaging, as well as stickers placed over barcodes or PIN numbers. Also, always try to purchase gift cards directly from retailers, avoiding third party sellers.

The Michigan Attorney General’s website has a full list of this and other gift card scams that you can read up on. If you’ve been the victim of fraud or have other consumer complaints, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division online at Michigan.gov.

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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