The power of the barcode is undeniable. The retail and manufacturing industries would fall apart without the use of barcodes and barcode technology has come such a long way that it would be difficult to think of any industry that would not benefit from using them in some shape or form. It is an unfortunate reality that, as is with most revolutionary technology, criminals have now managed to invent a way in which the barcode can be used to perpetuate crime.
How it is happening:
With the holiday season drawing to a close, it has been the optimal time for thieves and scanners to seize their chance to steal and scam. The latest (and definitely most inventive) scam to hit the consumer world is that criminals are now tampering with your gift cards before you even get the chance to buy them!
How, on earth, is it possible for thieves to have already scammed you when you haven’t even had the chance to purchase the gift card you want to give to your loved one? Well, it seems that thieves don’t even have to buy barcodes, as they are taking the barcode that is already attached to these chards at the store and then copying it, printing it, and then attaching it to many others of the exact same sort of gift card. It is plainly quite as simple as scanning a gift card that you have already allocated and activated to yourself, attaching that information onto many other cards. What this means is that when any of those additional cards are scanned, all the money that is on each of those cards goes to the criminal’s card – because they have already it activated the original card!
The scariest fact about this kind of a scam is that there really is nothing complicated about it. The criminals that are taking part in this do not require insane high-tech skills as is common with other scams. All that is needed to execute this scam is a person with a general understanding of graphic design and voilà! You have yourself a scam artist! This is especially so considering that replicating barcodes only requires something like an inkjet home printer.
How to protect yourself as a consumer:
While this scam is one of the scarier ones because it is such an easy thing to pull off, here are some tips and tricks to help you protect yourself and your money if you have received any gift cards over the festive season:
- Purchase gift cards from online platforms rather than instore:
Criminals cannot access cards in this form and adds an impenetrable level of security.
- If you do need to purchase cards instore, avoid those that have barcode numbers or pins that are easily attainable:
It is a reality that you sometimes, gift purchases are left until the last minute and the easiest way to buy a gift card is in the retail store itself. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, rather choose from a card that is kept behind the counter where customers cannot access the cards themselves, or in packaging that has been well-sealed and has obviously not been tampered with.
- If you have received a gift card, modify and update the security code as soon as you can:
Register and activate the card as soon after you receive it as you can, change the pin to your own unique pin and use the money as quickly as you can. The longer you let the card sit unused, the longer you give scammers to steal what is on it!
Regardless of this scam, if you are looking to buy a barcode for your new product, there are many reputable sellers where you can buy barcodes, South Africa especially has many platforms that are safe and scam free where you can buy South African barcodes