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3 tips to avoid holiday gift card scams

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With Black Friday and Small Business Saturday now in the rearview mirror, we’re all firmly focused on the next holiday and what to give—and I’ll be you were considering at least one gift card. If so, be careful because the scammers have their hooks out for gift cards, too.

How does someone you don’t even know steal the gift card you bought? It’s actually quite simple. According to the Better Business Bureau, the scammers make a note of the card number and activation code before someone buys it. They wait until that card has been purchased, then go online and spend the money.

The best solution is to buy gift cards from a reputable store and make sure the activation code has not been scratched off. This simple tip can help you avoid gift card scams.

But wait, there’s more. Gift card text messages are also a favorite of scammers. Did you ever receive a text message with a link telling you how you’ve won a gift card from a reputable store? All you need to do is click the link to get your prize. What a prize you’ll get, too. The website will be a replica of the real merchant’s site and when you fill out the form to claim your prize, you’ll be giving away personal information, thus making you their next identity theft victim.

If the text message gives you a way to stop future messages by texting “STOP” or some other code, don’t do it. You’re only confirming to the scammer that they’ve found an active cellular user.

Terry Ambrose (terryambrose.com) writes mysteries and thrillers. His latest funny Hawaiian mystery, “Kauai Temptations,” was called “More delicious than a Coconut Mocha Frap” by New York Times Bestselling author Jenn McKinlay (www.jennmckinlay.com).

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