AG's office wants consumers to stay alert when buying last-minute gift cards

By Chris Dickerson | Dec 21, 2018

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is urging consumers to be selective and cautious when making last-minute gift card purchases as Christmas approaches.

“Gift cards can be a great idea for last-minute shoppers who are stumped for an idea otherwise,” Morrisey said. “Gift cards allow the recipient to select a gift they want, however it is very important to use caution when deciding upon a gift card so neither the gift giver or recipient gets ripped off.”

The AG's office says thieves have been known to pilfer gift card racks. They will use handheld scanners to read the card’s magnetic information and any number on the front, after which they place the card back on display and wait for it to be activated.

Once the unknowing recipient activates the card, the thief can create a counterfeit and/or make online purchases without having the actual card in hand.

The AG's office suggests following these tips to avoid falling prey to gift card scammers:

  • Purchase gift cards from behind the customer service desk.
  • If selecting from a rack, select a gift card that is less accessible, such as the middle position on one of the pegs as opposed to the first one.
  • Watch for any sign of tampering, like a PIN number that has been scratched off.
  • Avoid purchasing cards from an online auction.
  • If the card is preloaded, ask for the card to be scanned to verify its full value.
  • Like any gift, the consumer should keep the receipt.
Consumers with questions regarding gift cards are asked to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at

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