Scammers tempt holiday shoppers with deep discounts on fake gift cards

(AP File Photo)

In a holiday survey, the National Retail Federation says 75 percent plan to purchase at least one gift card this holiday season.

But how can you make sure you get your money’s worth?

If gift cards seem like the perfect present this Christmas, make sure you buy a legitimate one.

The Honolulu Police Department says thousands of Hawaii residents a year fall prey to a gift card scam.

It usually starts when you’re on a website where you see a deeply discounted gift card.

“We see that through the year, but more during the holidays,” said Capt. John McCarthy with HPD. “(The discount is) usually 50 percent or more, and they’re bought through third parties, social media sites, websites, online.”

Don’t be tempted. HPD says all the cards are fake.

“They’re not like the discount cards you see at Costco or other retailers where it can be as much as 15 percent off. After that, you’re really cutting into the merchant’s cost and profits,” McCarthy said.

“Retailers can detect these cards now,” he added. “It’s embarrassing if you buy a card thinking you got a great deal, walk in, pay for your merchandise, only to find the card’s no good.”

Get your cards from a reputable dealer, like the store itself. You’ll get what you pay for, and stay vigilant.

McCarthy says this time of crime won’t go away anytime soon.

“They’ll get more sophisticated,” he said. “All these crimes are adaptable. They change as law enforcement is onto them.”

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