Pennsylvania’s AG warning of “card draining” scams targeting gift card buyers this Christmas

07 December 2023- Attorney General Michelle Henry is warning Pennsylvanians to be aware of scammers targeting holiday shoppers who purchase gift cards.

Referred to as “card draining,” the scam involves bad actors recording information — card and associated pin numbers — from un-purchased gift cards. Once those cards are then purchased by an unsuspecting consumer, the scammer immediately uses the numbers to make purchases, leaving the buyer with a worthless gift card.

The scam has reportedly been used more than one hundred times at an eastern Pennsylvania grocery store and is happening elsewhere in the state and country.

“The holidays present additional opportunities for scammers to deceive and steal from consumers who choose gift cards as presents for loved ones,” Attorney General Henry said. “Be sure to take a careful look at the cards you purchase and keep your receipts, just in case.”

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Make sure the gift card is sealed and the protective cover and the tape covering the pin is intact.
  • Ensure the gift card does not appear to be tampered with.
  • Keep the store receipt in case the gift card you are purchasing is found to have been compromised.
  • If a purchased gift card is found to be compromised, immediately report it to the gift card company directly, to request a freeze on the card, and request a refund.

Consumers with any questions or feel that they have been victimized by this scam may submit a complaint with the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting the website,, by emailing or by calling the office at 1-800-441-2555.