BOSTON (CBS) – Things get hectic and frantic the two weeks before Christmas. Really crazy! And we easily let our guard down when we are shopping because we are rushed and tired.

Here is a gift card scam you should know about. Gift cards make great last minute gifts. I always make sure I have several Dunkin’ Donuts cards to give my nieces for Christmas and my nephews get movie gift cards. Eighty percent of us are buying gift cards this holiday. It’s easy, quick and never returned.

Let’s take a close look at those gift card display racks we have all seen in the stores. Often times they are near the cash registers. The thieves manage to get cards off the racks and get to that code under the scratch off strip in the back by either peeling or scratching it off and the more sophisticated thieves use portable scanners.

They then put them back on the rack and wait for them to be bought and activated. They get online or start calling the toll free number so they can find out when they have been sold and exactly what the value is you put on the card.

That’s the signal for them to go shopping before you do. By the time you try to use the same card it is worthless.

Now I’m not advising you to avoid gift cards just shop for them smarter. Buy gift cards directly from the retailer if that’s possible. I go to the local Dunkin’ Donuts shop or to the theater for movie gift cards.

Another place to buy the gift card is online. They will even mail the card to your recipient.

If you do purchase a card from one of those racks ask the cashier if they have any cards behind the counter and always enclose the receipt with the gift card so the recipient has something if the card has been compromised.


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