A new scam is popping up across Arizona during the holidays. Thieves are draining money from gift cards, before you use them.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says con-artists are now able to scan gift card numbers. Once the gard is activated, scammers can spend the money online.
It's a handheld scanner that reads the card's magnetic information and the number on the front of the card. Thieves can use that stolen number when the card is activated.
AG Mark Brnovich says, "Gift cards are one of the most requested items on holiday wish lists. Unfortunately, thieves like gift cards too."
So what can you do to prevent this from happening to you?
Some tips from Attorney General Brnovich :
1. Buy gift cards from behind the customer service desk. Scammers don't have easy access to those.
2. Buy gift cards with packaging that covers the card number and security code.
3. Choose a card that has loss or theft protection on it.
4. Look for any signs of tampering before you buy the card. For example: does the PIN number look like it's been scratched off?
5. Avoid buying cards online.
6. If the card is pre-loaded, ask customer served to scan the card to verify how much is on the card when you purchase it.
7. Keep the receipt! But that is a tip for any holiday gift.
8. Change the security code on the card, if possible. Some gift cards give you the chance to personalize the code after you purchase it.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, you can call the Attorney General's Office in Tucson at 520-628-6504 or in Phoenix at 602-542-5763.