How to protect holiday shoppers from bots and scammers

The National Retail Federation has predicted gift cards at the top of holiday gift lists, but there are new warnings to stop sophisticated hackers from draining the value on the cards.
3:40 | 11/20/19

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Transcript for How to protect holiday shoppers from bots and scammers
Back now with an important holiday shopping alert about gift cards. An estimated nearly $30 billion in gift cards were purchased last year but there are new way scammers are draining their value without you ever knowing. Becky Worley joins us from a target store in ft. Worth, Texas, with what you need to know. Good morning, Becky. Good morning, George. They're the easiest thing to give and a real treat to receive. Gift cards are again at the top of holiday lists this year and, unfortunately, that means criminals are innovating new ways to drain them. It's the most wonderful time for gift card scammers. The national retail federation predicting gift cards will once again top wish lists. So many consumers are going out and buying them all at the same time within a specific period so the hackers know that. Reporter: Retailers using security measures like hidden P.I.N. Numbers to protect the cards but fraudsters are employing sophisticated hacking tools to drain funds. Bad bots are becoming an epidemic. They're checking to see if those gift card account numbers are legitimate. If they have funds available or balances and if they do those cybercriminals can go ahead and scrape those funds from those gift cards. Reporter: The security firm saying hacking software makes an average 1 to 2 million attempts per hour to guess the correct P.I.N. Number draining the cash without consumers ever knowing how it happened. Though no longer have a gift card with funds on it. Reporter: Then the old-fashioned attacks. Warning about the scams hitting consumers across the country. Consumers like Josh Leighton. The gift card had been depleted, I was absolutely Reporter: The problem is that gift card fraud is just so easy for criminals to commit. Cards displayed out in public, a few grabbed discreetly. I paid for these, but a fraudster could very easily put them in his pocket and walk out the door. Then at home the P.I.N. Numbers are recorded and then you can buy these safety stickers for a couple of bucks online. The safety strips are replaced so the criminal can take them back to the store and wait for an unsuspecting gift giver to load it up with money. Consumers should treat it like cash, keep them protected or safeguarded in some capacity. Reporter: Keeping the holidays free from bah humbug bots and draining crooks. A good reminder as the being season starts. What else can we do to protect ourselves. All about awareness. When you're in store buying one of these you want to inspect it carefully. You want to make sure there's no stickers over this bar code. And that this security silver strip is pristine. You want it to look like all the other ones on the rack. Here at target they put their logo on there so it can't be spoofed. Now we want to talk about tamper-proof packaging. A lot are in cardboard where you cann get access to that P.I.N. And so these or the clam shells that have things in there, these are safer. Finally, you want to treat these gift cards when you receive them like cash. Use them straightaway and if you can't do that, go online and redeem them. That's the magic word. You find the redeem portion and what it does, you put in the P.I.N. And it ties the balance from the card to your online account. Once you do that you can use the funds any time and a crook cannot drain them, George. Good advice right there. Thanks, Becky. Did not know that. Taking notes for when you giver me my gift card. Your Christmas gift. The firefighters coming to

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