Ready or not, the holiday season is charging full steam ahead. I’ve yet to have my Thanksgiving turkey and football fix, and yet the stores are decked in everything Christmas. As you find yourself slipping into the giving spirit, be weary of gift card fraud.

Yes, gift cards can be a great gift idea and most of the time they don’t present any issues. However, you should be aware of a few things. Firstly, there are times I’ve received a gift card, only to be told it had never been activated upon redemption. Most of the time this is an accident, but it’s a costly one. For this reason, I urge you to save your receipts.

Next, double check the integrity of the gift card before purchasing. While the packaging has improved to deter this behavior, in some cases thieves can still scratch the back to reveal the numbers, record them, and redeem the balance through online purchases.

More recently, as identified gift cards have been used in scams unrelated to the holidays. According to,one third of the people who recently reported fraud to the Federal Trade Commission were asked to pay with gift cards, totaling $74 million. Yikes.

We’ve all heard the story where scammers target grandparents, calling to say their grandchild is in trouble and that they can help by paying X amount right away. These scammers have started requesting gift cards because much like cash, they have little ability to be traced. Email scams requesting money can also seem legitimate at first glance. Just like any scam, it’s important to verify the information before making any sort of payment. It never hurts to double check.

Again, gift cards can be a great gift, just be careful. It may seem sad that in the spirit of giving, we need to be cautious but that’s the way the gingerbread crumbles.