Several consumer reports have issued warnings about gift cards. For those who have not heard about gift card theft, please take a few seconds to read this post.
If you are thinking about buying gift cards this holiday season, be cognizant of the fact that your gift may not reach its intended recipient. More specifically, thieves have found a new way to steal. They find stores that have free standing gift card stands and copy the cards' control numbers. Thereafter, they go online to see if the cards have been activated. Oftentimes, there is a substantial period between the time the gift giver purchases the card and the time the gift receiver uses the card. During that dead period, thieves empty the value of card by making purchases. By the time the gift receiver goes to the store, the card's balance is zero.
Stores can easily protect the consumer by placing the cards in locked or monitored locations. Card manufacturers can create card wraps that cover control numbers. It would be similar to shrink wrap on medicines. If the wrap is broken, don't buy.
For now, if you want to give gift cards, select ones that are controlled by the cashier. Also, you can purchase gift cards online. If you should risk buying the card from an unmonitored kiosk, keep the receipt, monitor the balance online until you give the gift, and advise the gift receiver to monitor the balance.