What's the Deal: Protecting yourself from gift card scams

Holiday shopping season is right around the corner and a popular present is gift cards.

According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards have been the most popular gifts in America for 13 years in a row.

But consumers aren't the only ones who love gift cards, criminals do, too. The Troubleshooters have received many complaints related to gift cards so you need to be very careful.

Gift card theft and fraud are such big issues, the Retail Gift Card Association is releasing a public service announcement, which includes tips for gift card recipients and buyers.

The tips include when buying a gift card, inspect the package for signs of tampering and ensure the PIN is covered. And buy gift cards only from trusted sources and reputable sellers, especially when buying them online.

Also take steps to protect gift cards as best you can. If you bought yourself a gift card or received one as a gift, be sure to register it if you have the option to and save the receipt until the gift card is redeemed.

And be aware no legitimate company or real government agency will ask you to pay money owed using gift cards. That includes police departments, utility companies, and the IRS.

You should also never have to give a gift card PIN or other information over the phone. And unlike credit and debit cards, gift cards have virtually no protection. So if the card is lost or hacked - or the balance gets stolen, in the vast majority of cases, you are simply out of luck so be extra vigilant that you store gift cards safely.

Finally, keep digital or e-gift cards in an account or mobile wallet that is password-protected.
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