FF12 Holiday Shopping Guide: Gift Card Scams

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) It's holiday shopping season and our FactFinder 12 Investigative team wants you to stay safe and smart. We've found some of the most common scams, tricks and warnings to tell you so you have the best holiday shopping season possible.

The first scam that's somewhat hard to avoid is the gift card scam.

Gift cards are an easy buy and you know you'll never get the wrong gift. But the problem is scammers are taking pictures of the gift cards themselves at stores and then putting them back on the shelf.

"They are actually wiping out the funds on those gift cards before the gift recipient even has the opportunity to use it," Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau said.

If that happens, Groene said the customer can try to talk with the retailer where they purchased the gift card. But the retailer may not be responsible.

"A lot of times the burden is going to fall on the retailer but a lot of times those third party kiosks aren't owned by the retailer store that they're in. So they actually rent space from the retailers to provide those kiosks," Groene said.

That means the liability is unclear in these cases. Groene said she contacted the Federal Trade Commission on a case like this recently and the person she spoke with said there isn't a clear entity who is held responsible.

As a customer, when you hunt for a gift card as a gift, you can look at the card itself and examine if it looks tampered with. But just because it has a scratch off sticker still on the card doesn't mean it's good to go.

Those stickers can be bought at several major online retailers and replaced easily. That means scammers can scratch off, grab the PIN number and then put a new sticker on.

Because of all of that, your options as a consumer are limited. You should still examine a card and if the scratch sticker looks imperfect, you should turn the card into the retailer and grab another. You can also take one that's way back on the shelf.

"A lot of times those gift card kiosks are right towards the front of the store so somebody who is taking photos of these, they don't have a whole lot of time. Chances are it's going to be one of the ones towards the front that they are taking the photos of," Groene said.

Finally, grab a gift receipt for whoever you're buying the gift card for. If they have a problem, Groene said, retailers are often more willing to help with the more documentation they have.