12 scams of Christmas: Free gift cards aren't actually free

Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-24 19:41:53-05

You know the saying, nothing in life is free, and the same goes for complimentary gift cards.

It's the fifth scam on the Better Business Bureau’s “12 Scams of Christmas” countdown.

Sadly, you probably didn't win that trip or shopping spree, it's actually a phishing email or pop-up ad that collects your personal information then sells it to third-parties and advertisers. Or worse, scammers use the information to steal your identity.

If you click on the ad, close out the app or program then clear your history and turn on your ad blocker.

"Very few retailers are giving free gift cards. What they're doing is they give you an opportunity to get something but you're actually going to have to sign up for something else," said Angie Barnett, president & CEO of the BBB serving Greater Maryland.

Also, keep a close eye on your financial statements to make sure you weren't charged for anything else or registered for a subscription without realizing it.

If you fall victim to any scams this holiday, you’re encouraged to submit any complaints to the BBB or FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).