Target Customer Shares Target Gift Card PSA – The Daily Dot

A Target customer uncovered a gift card scam that some sneaky scammers use to trick people into adding money to account balances they have access to.

It’s a simple trick: The thieves buy gift cards, but make sure the packaging looks as new as possible, and then record the gift card’s credentials. By putting these “new” gift cards on the shelves of popular retailers like Target, unwitting customers are “purchasing” these cards and adding credit to them. Scammers then check the balance of the card they leave on the shelves and spend the money before you or whoever you intended to gift the card to has a chance to enjoy it.

Krys (@kryssoli) outlined some general things to look for when purchasing Target gift cards to ensure you don’t fall prey to these gift card balance vultures.

“We have new scams. Be careful, turn the cards over, one of them shows that it is covered,” then she lifts the paper wrapper to reveal the barcode sticker on the back of the gift card. Below the barcode sticker is a gray, glossy message that reads: “Check Balance.” According to the TikToker, if you see one of these stickers covering the back of the card like this, someone is trying to pull it and the gift cards have already been used.

“There’s a second one,” she says, grabbing another scammed gift card. “Normal card, turn it over, that looks good,” she notes, noticing through the gift card window the standard barcode that is actually part of the card and not a printed sticker designed to trick people into thinking there is still a balance left be.

However, when it comes time to examine the shiny gray sticker on the bottom of the card, she demonstrates how scammers place stickers over the original area. The remaining balance has already been used up on these particular cards, leaving customers footing the bill for someone else’s gift card spending habits.

To combat this type of fraud, Krys suggests in a caption to the video that customers instead pick up their gift cards from behind the checkout counter rather than from the display walls in the store. Those behind the cash register are significantly less likely to be tampered with than those who have a bunch of candy hanging around and selling off seasonal knick-knacks.

According to several people who responded to Krys’ post, this appears to be a safety measure that more and more stores are following. “My store now has a sample on the shelf and the cashier will give you the sample you want. At least for the targets,” one person wrote.

@kryssoli Tis the season for card fraud at Target. DO NOT BUY YOUR WALL CARD, GET IT AT THE CHECKOUT! #Targetgiftcardscams #FYP #TARGET ♬ Original sound – Krys

Someone else suggested another way to avoid gift card scams by avoiding gift cards entirely and sending people alternative forms of cash gifts: “That’s why I use digital GCs now, or I just send them money through my bank, lol. “ .”

Unfortunately, there were other TikTok users, like this Ulta customer, who said they fell victim to a gift card scam that left them in the lurch. “This happened to me with a $100 Ulta card and they didn’t care. “Was from the $$$$,” they wrote.

But for those looking to buy physical gift cards off the shelf, you might find it helpful to follow this TikToker’s tried-and-tested fraud-fighting method. “I never take the first few cards out of the slot, I always take them out of the middle to avoid this,” one user wrote.

There are some who may claim that gift cards themselves are absolute scams. According to Real Simple, there are approximately $21 billion worth of unused gift card balances. That’s why gift cards get lost under car seats, dropped down drains, or left in boxes in the attic – and never used. With all the forms of digital currency transfers, one wonders why anyone would ever buy a piece of plastic that allows consumers to only spend a certain amount of money at a specific store rather than simply writing the person a check or sending them a Venmo message with a gift box emoji?

Maybe it doesn’t have the same “feel”, but at least you could spend the money on whatever you want instead of just at one retailer.

The Daily Dot reached out to Target via email and Krys via TikTok comment for more information.

*First published: December 9, 2023, 5:30 PM CST

Jack Alban

Jack Alban is a freelance journalist for the Daily Dot covering current human interest/social media issues and how real people are reacting to them. He always strives to incorporate evidence-based studies, current events, and facts relevant to those stories to create your not-so-average viral post.

Jack Alban


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