Thieves are putting fake barcodes on gift cards sold at retail outlets and consumers have been victimized, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.
Gift cards with fake barcodes were found recently at a Centennial grocery store where a woman purchased a $500 gift card only to find there were no funds, according to a news release. Scammers print barcodes and paste the fake code on the gift card over the legitimate code.
“When the card is activated, the money is added to the scammer’s card instead of the card being purchased,” the sheriff’s office said.
To avoid being victimized, the Sheriff’s Office urges consumers to:
- Examine the back of the gift card before purchasing and check for signs of tampering, such as barcode stickers
- Make sure the gift card barcode number, visible through the window on the back of the gift card wrapper, matches the number on the wrapper itself
- Choose a gift card in the middle or back of the holder, as they are less likely to have been tampered with.
The gift card barcode scam has been around for years, experts say, and there’s usually an uptick during the holiday shopping season, when girt card purchases are at their peak. In the first nine months of 2021, the Federal Trade Commission reported more than $148 million in gift card thefts.