Home Cyber Security Present playing cards or knowledge theft? Guaranteeing protected on-line procuring this festive season

Present playing cards or knowledge theft? Guaranteeing protected on-line procuring this festive season

Present playing cards or knowledge theft? Guaranteeing protected on-line procuring this festive season


The content material of this submit is solely the accountability of the creator.  AT&T doesn’t undertake or endorse any of the views, positions, or data supplied by the creator on this article. 

Present playing cards have grow to be a go-to Christmas current for many individuals, however their dramatic rise in reputation has additionally sadly made them a primary goal for hackers.

The explanation why present playing cards are such a well-liked current is due to how sensible they’re to make use of. Once you’re unsure what to purchase somebody, present playing cards current a straightforward and accessible strategy to present somebody how a lot you recognize them.

However don’t permit the comfort of present playing cards to get the higher of your judgment in regard to safety. It’s simple to assume that present playing cards are protected from cybercriminals, however in actuality, present card fraud (also called present card scamming) is a really actual risk not solely to retailers and enterprise homeowners however to on a regular basis people comparable to your self as properly. 

Overlooking fundamental cybersecurity hygiene whenever you’re dashing to attain the perfect offers which you can on-line has at all times been a danger you’ve taken up to now, however it additionally is probably not a danger you may afford to take this 12 months.

Learn on to search out out why and how one can forestall it. 

Why do scammers like present playing cards?

Present card fraud is an even bigger downside than most individuals understand. In 2022, for instance, FTC knowledge revealed that practically $230 million was misplaced to present card fraud, affecting greater than 48,000 folks in complete.

Present playing cards are widespread with retailers as a result of they current a really dependable stream of income. However on the similar time, they forestall a viable alternative for scammers to get away with simple cash due to how troublesome they’re to trace.

Scammers like present card playing cards as a result of they’re simple to interrupt into and likewise as a result of they don’t have the identical degree of safety authentication that credit score or debit playing cards have. Most cybercriminals will steal present card numbers on-line from shops providing them. They will accomplish this by utilizing botnets that carry out brute pressure assaults. The one factor a legal has to do is to check hundreds of various combos of PIN and present card numbers earlier than hacking right into a person’s account and depleting the cardboard of its funds. 

Moreover, as soon as the assault is accomplished, there’s normally no hint of the legal’s identification and the funds can’t be traced. And although most present playing cards have restricted quantities of cash loaded on them (most present playing cards run between $15 to $500 on the most), when cybercriminals are operating their operations on a big scale they will flip a really sizable revenue. 

Cybercriminals may monetize present playing cards by illegally promoting them on the darkish internet or different third-party web sites. A few of these web sites will provide the flexibility to transform present playing cards to money at 30%+ of the full card worth, presenting a straightforward strategy to make fast cash. 

Within the subsequent part, we’ll dive into the particular sorts of present card fraud that may have an effect on you. 

Sorts of present card scams 

Listed below are the commonest sorts of present card scams:

Fictitious adverts

On this technique, cybercriminals will submit faux however realistic-looking commercials for objects ‘on sale’ on ecommerce web sites the place they are going to trick customers to into sharing their present card numbers to buy the objects. As soon as the cash has been obtained, the adverts will disappear, and the sufferer might be out of luck. 

In different phrases, folks can fall for this trick the identical manner they will fall for different widespread sorts of identification theft, with folks being unassuming because the risk comes from a innocent supply (on this case, a web-based present card for the vacations).

Present card demand

On this technique, cybercriminals will ship a textual content message or a cellphone name to victims posing as a legislation enforcement or authorities company and demanding you to pay them in present playing cards (Amazon, Apple, and Google Play playing cards are probably the most generally requested). They’ll demand that you just buy the playing cards after which present them the present card data, at which level they’ll disappear immediately. 

One other technique on this similar vein is for the cybercriminal to pose as somebody you understand, comparable to your boss, supervisor, buddy, or member of the family. They will discover this data out by your social media or LinkedIn profiles. Pretending to be the individual you understand, they’ll ask you to buy a present card for them and to ship the codes over, normally developing with a narrative for why you want to take action within the course of. 

This is among the most typical sorts of present card fraud that may have an effect on on a regular basis folks. 

Stealing codes 

This technique is the place a complicated cyber attacker will hack into the net database of a present card firm to search out and monitor the present card numbers and activation codes, normally by way of brute pressure assaults as we mentioned above. 

You could go to buy a card, after which as soon as it’s been activated, the legal will deplete it of its funds. Then whenever you or the recipient of the cardboard goes to spend it, it received’t work as a result of there’s now not any cash on the cardboard. 

Generated present playing cards 

Different occasions, cybercriminals will create web sites or cell apps that declare you may generate present card codes which can be redeemable at main retailers and on-line shops. After you’ve ‘bought’ the present card, the cash might be transferred to the account of the cybercriminal, and the sufferer will find yourself with nothing.

Alternatively, scammers might give you a present card that merely has much less worth than what you paid for it. If so, the cardboard is both faux or was stolen. 

Tips on how to cease present card scams 

The primary strategy to cease your self from changing into a present card rip-off is to be alert. Don’t have the mindset that “it can by no means occur to you,” as a result of that’s precisely the identical mindset that the hundreds of different victims of present card scams initially had as properly.

Be sure to by no means present your private or monetary knowledge to unsolicited cellphone calls, textual content messages, or emails of any type. No authentic enterprise, authorities company, or legislation enforcement division will ask you to offer your private or monetary knowledge for no cause, and so they definitely received’t demand you to pay for something by way of present playing cards. Often, nonetheless, fraudster playing cards are simple to detect. 

One other wonderful means to make sure you’re protected is to make use of correct doc administration strategies and keep away from susceptible mainstream options on the subject of recording your monetary knowledge, together with your present card numbers. If the present card finally ends up being a malicious instrument, accessing your deeds, private data, and even work notes is greatest performed via a protected platform (comparable to an encrypted PDF) and never Google Workspace or Workplace 365. 

In case your boss or member of the family asks you by way of textual content message to purchase them a present card, you may relaxation assured that it’s not likely your boss or member of the family. The actual fact that your ‘boss’ or ‘member of the family’ is texting you by way of a special cellphone quantity (and normally one with a totally totally different space code) ought to let you know the entire story. 

Moreover, ensure you solely store with trusted companies or on-line retailers which can be PCI DSS compliant, that means that they adhere to the twelve safety requirements for conducting transactions as set by the Cost Card Trade Safety Requirements Council (PCI DSS). In a nutshell, these requirements are designed to make sure the continued encryption and authentication of buyer private and monetary knowledge. It’s a serious crimson flag if a enterprise shouldn’t be PCI-DSS compliant or doesn’t also have a Visa or MasterCard seal of approval. 


Present card fraud doesn’t must destroy your vacation season. Do not forget that although present playing cards could also be handy to make use of, they will also be handy for cybercriminals as properly because the transactions can’t be tracked. Have enjoyable procuring on your family members this upcoming vacation season however be in your guard on the similar time.


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