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Three major retailers announce new gift card restrictions to prevent scams

PITTSBURGH — If you're planning to purchase gift cards this holiday season, there are some important policy changes that you'll need to know about.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced nationwide gift card policy changes at a news conference Tuesday.

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Three major retailers Walmart, Target and Best Buy have all agreed to new restrictions. There will be reductions in gift card limits, as well as restrictions on using gift cards to buy other gift cards.  There also will be more employee training for people who work in the stores to help recognize scams when they are happening.

Shapiro said gift card scams have quadrupled in recent years.

.@PAAttorneyGen says victims of scams are told to go buy gift cards, scratch the numbers off the back and give them to the scammer so the scammer can buy another gift card and use that $$$$. Makes it hard to find the culprit. #WPXI

— Courtney Brennan (@WPXI_Courtney) November 20, 2018

"Data shows that scammers were making use of this tactic to steal money from consumers all across Pennsylvania," he said.

The scam usually involves the scammer telling the unknowing victim they can pay them with a gift card, just give them the scratch off number on the back of a target or best buy gift card. The scammer will then use that number to buy third party cards like Google Play and iTunes and then sell these cards on the black market for pure profit.

Best Buy decreased it's per-card limit from $2,000 to $500, Walmart's per-card limit dropped rom $1,000 to $500.

Target and Best Buy stores will also stop accepting gift cards as payment for third party cards.


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