Planning to buy a gift card for a graduation or birthday present? You need to watch out for gift card scams that could leave your recipient – and possibly your bank account – feeling empty.

The Better Business Bureau said that one scam targets cards that have not been purchased yet. Scammers go to the gift card rack and scratch off and photograph the PIN. Then they keep calling the 800 number associated with the card, checking until someone has purchased the card and put money on it. They quickly drain the card before the recipient can use it.

“The scammers have found this is a new way to extract money from consumers that are really not educated on the pitfalls of buying things with gift cards,” said Steve Bernas, CEO of the Chicago Better Business Bureau.

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Another gift card scam works like this. You get a Facebook message or a call from someone you think you know. Maybe they’re pretending to be the utility company. They say they need money or you have an outstanding bill and tell you to buy gift cards to transfer the money to them. You buy the gift cards, and the scammer asks you for the numbers, including the PIN  hidden under the scratch off. Then…

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