HONOLULU (KHON2) – According to the Federal Trade Commission, gift card scams are among the top schemes used every holiday season.

[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]

The Better Business Bureau says gift cards are the perfect tool for con artists to steal your money.

“You try to use it somewhere or the recipient tries to use it somewhere and there’s no money on it,” said Roseann Frietas, Better Business Bureau Marketplace Manager. “So the big issue there is that you’re out your money.”

The BBB says, whether you’re buying or using the gift cards, always do your homework on the company first.

“Make sure you shop with a trustworthy business. If you haven’t heard of them before, go ahead and research that company, because you want to make sure that you can trust who they are with that gift card.”

The BBB has also seen cases where scammers steal the code on the gift card to collect the money loaded onto them.

“Does it look like it’s been tampered with? Are any of the boxes on the back that gives you the code, has that been opened already? If it has, that’s a problem. That should still be covered until the recipient opens and gets the code.”

If the gift card has been tampered with, take it back to the store immediately. The BBB also suggests treating gift cards like cash.

“If you lose that card, it’s gone. So you need to treat it like cash and not just leave it around somewhere, keep it in your wallet. Also, if for some reason there would be an expiration, keep an eye on that.”

For more information on gift card scams, click here.

Latest stories on KHON2