As Christmas approaches, Michigan shoppers should be aware of another scam targeting them.

See Also: Michigan Scam Alert: Don't Answer Phone Calls From These Area Codes

This is a scam that's been around for a while, but one you need to know about, as criminals target holiday gift card buyers. We're talking about the 'card-draining' scam.

What is the 'Card-Draining' Scam?

What is the 'Card-Draining' Scam? It's pretty much just like it sounds. It's a scam that drains a gift card before you get to use it.

According to Wood TV, the 'card-draining' scam involves criminals taking cards off displays and carefully obtaining the information from the back of the gift card before putting them back. From there, they wait for you to buy the gift cards.

These low-life crooks wait for the card to be activated and money to be put on it — once they see it’s active, they’ll use and drain it.

While it may sound complicated, in the world of scammers, it's a relatively easy task to achieve.


This type of crime happens all over the country, but just recently, more than 100 different gift cards, including Visa and Apple cards, were reportedly drained at a local grocery store in Pennsylvania.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed?

The best thing you can do is inspect the gift card before purchase. If it looks like it's been tampered with in any way, give it to an employee so they can handle the situation properly. If the package has been tampered with or the pin is scratched off, don't buy it.

We're not advising against buying gift cards this holiday season; we just want you to be aware so this scam doesn't happen to you.

LOOK: The biggest scams today and how you can protect yourself from them

Using data from the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, Stacker identified the most common and costly types of scams in 2022.

Check Out 21 Now-Defunct Stores We All Miss Going to in Michigan

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, let's take a minute to remember all the stores that we used to go to that are no longer in business.

Expert Tips for Avoiding Online Shopping Scams

In order to avoid a scammer getting the better of you, check out the following red flags to look out for as well as preventative measures to take from Dr. Skiba, AKA Dr. Fraud himself:

Gallery Credit: Maria Danise