Statement from Commissioner Michael Pieciak

Statement from Commissioner Pieciak: DFR staff have been directed to work remotely from home, and will continue to do so until further notice. The department is still conducting business, however the remote nature of our work may cause some temporary disruptions or delays in DFR services. Read the full letter for more information about contacting DFR.

Gift Card Safety Tips

23 December 2019

Gift card scams don’t happen that often and the damage is generally limited to the value of a gift card, but it is a situation that we all want to avoid. To protect yourself or the recipient, use following the tips below.

For gift card buyers:

  • Purchase gift cards from trusted companies. It’s best to buy directly from retailers. Purchasing gift cards secondhand at a discount might be tempting, but not all resellers are reliable. If you buy from a reseller, pick one that is backed by a reputable company, offers a money-back guarantee and has a customer service department.
  • Inspect the card before you buy it. If you purchase a gift card in person, make sure the packaging hasn’t been tampered with and do not buy it if the PIN is exposed.
  • Hang onto your receipt. This verifies ownership in case something goes wrong. If you’re worried about losing it, take a picture.

For gift card recipients:

  • Register your gift card. This can help you and customer service easily identify the card and monitor its activity.
  • Keep it in a safe place. Treat the gift card like cash, put it in your wallet next to the cards you use most often.
  • Use it quickly. Many cards don’t expire, but the longer they sit, the more vulnerable they become to theft or you are likely to forget about them.
  • Be careful where you shop. Don’t use gift cards anywhere a seller demands them as payment.

Scams to watch out for:

  • Thieves take gift cards from store displays, write the numbers down and put the cards back. They wait for others to purchase the cards and then use the balances themselves.
  • Sellers list counterfeit or stolen cards on auction websites or community marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist.
  • Shoppers go to make a purchase online or over the phone and the seller only accepts Amazon, iTunes or other gift cards as payment.
  • Advertisements, calls, texts or emails claim you’ve won a free gift card.
  • Someone reaches out to you pretending to be from the IRS or a utility company and demands you pay a fine or bill with a gift card.

What to do if you fall victim:

If you lose the gift card or think it’s been compromised, immediately alert the issuer. File a complaint with the FTC. You can do this online at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.

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Department of Financial Regulation
Consumer Services 
89 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 05620 - 3101

802-828-3301
833-DFR-HOTLINE (toll free)
833-337-4685 (toll free)

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