Gift Cards Can be a Great Choice, or a Risky One: Here’s How to Keep Yourself and Your Cards Safe
With the rise of e-commerce and what seems like an overall decrease in the amount of time consumers are willing to spend shopping, gift cards are quickly becoming a more popular gift and payment option. These plastic gift cards are generally a win-win-win for the purchaser, the recipient and the retailer; a customer gets to make a quick purchase they know the recipient will love, and the retailer secures a future sale. The impact of these wins is quickly diminished when gift card security and fraud become issues.
Gift cards are often purchased without knowledge of the potential security risks associated with them. To keep satisfaction high and fraud risk low, there are very specific steps that can be taken by both customers and retailers.
What Can I Do as a Customer to Keep my Cards Safe?
There are many ways gift card scammers can target consumer purchases, and multiple ways to combat gift card fraud. The following are the top methods and measures you can put in place before, during and after purchasing your gift card.
1. Check the Labels:
Modern plastic gift cards are adorned with security features like barcodes, scratch-off sections revealing a PIN, and even hologram elements that identify a card as authentic. When purchasing a gift card, it is important to look closely at the card, even comparing it to others on the shelf to ensure it contains the same security features as its mates.
If the card contains an exposed PIN or evidence that material has been scratched off, there is a good chance the card has been handled by a scammer. One common method of gift card scamming occurs right at the display location within the store. Scammers will note a card’s bar code and scratch to reveal its unique PIN. They’ll wait until a customer purchases the card, then quickly clear it of its balance. Talented scammers may also print gift cards of their own with the stolen code and PIN. If the card’s label or any other element appear to be tampered with, do not make the purchase.
2. Scan at Point of Sale:
To ensure your gift card has been loaded with the proper balance, it’s recommended to ask the cashier to scan the card post-purchase to confirm the amount loaded. If the store does not allow balance checks at the till, call the customer service number on the back of your card to check its balance.
There is one type of gift card scammer many shoppers fail to acknowledge – the store employee. Though not as common as other scammers, employees are just as capable of compromising gift cards in mass quantities. One common method of gift card scamming performed by an employee is when a cashier has a number of gift cards on his or her side of the till, and discreetly scans one instead of your own. When your gift card is handed back to you, it is in its blank state. Without checking the balance before exiting the store, you may end up with an inactivated card that’s worthless. Human error can also be the culprit of missed activations, so double-checking before leaving is always a good idea.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that some POS systems may take a while to load your card – in some cases this could take up to one hour from the time of purchase. Always keep a copy of your receipt. This is the most important item to hold onto in the case of disputes, and can be used later on if you find yourself holding an empty gift card.
3. Dealing with a Compromised Gift Card:
If all else fails and you find yourself in a situation where your gift card has been compromised, there are steps you can take to reclaim your funds.
- – Call the customer service line noted on the back of the gift card
- – Ask the representative to track your gift card’s usage
- – If the timeline of usage does not fit your own activity, ask the representative to verify the card’s activity at the retail level
- – Escalate the matter and request to have the initial card amount honored
What Can I Do as a Retailer to Ensure I’m Ordering Secure Cards?
When it comes to gift card printing, the majority of service providers are trustworthy, but it is important to understand that gift card scams can also occur at this level of business. Card numbers can be compromised by companies that perform gift card printing services before the cards even make it into your store. As a retailer, there are steps you can take to ensure your plastic gift card printing is performed in a trustworthy and professional manner. Some basic yet important tips include:
- – Ask the card printers what audit standards and compliancies they meet
- – Ask the card printers what precautions they take to avoid duplicates
MIXTO’s custom plastic gift cards are always equipped with the latest security features to ensure your store and your customers receive safe and reliable gift cards they can trust. With regular third-party audits and certified SOC 2 Type 2 Compliance, MIXTO is rooted in client security and employs best-in-class security measures through all its offered services.
Click here to see how our secure MIXTO gift card printing can benefit your business.