Digital Gift Cards and Cybersecurity: Ensuring Safe Transactions in the Digital Age

digital gift cards

There are numerous ways for people to pay for products, from traditional methods such as cash or credit cards to gift cards and cryptocurrencies. Interestingly, hackers have found ways to access and misuse each of these methods.

Gift cards are a wholesome idea—there’s nothing better than receiving one from your favorite store.

However, even gift cards aren’t completely safe. This doesn’t mean you should ignore a gift card you received as a present. Instead, you should be motivated to be more careful with them.

How? You can prevent the growing number of gift card scams with proper cybersecurity measures and security-driven decisions.

From understanding what a digital gift card is to ensuring safe transactions, this article should guide you on this particular problem and how to protect yourself online.

What Is a Digital Gift Card?

Think of a regular gift card as a physical card that works as a substitute for cash (or a credit card) in certain transactions.

They’re commonly purchased for friends and family as a gift. Instead of spending too much time thinking of a creative present, you can simply choose the store or platform where you feel someone would enjoy shopping and purchase a gift card.

Gift cards come with a pre-set amount of money (often dedicated to certain shops). Large companies sell gift cards, including Best Buy, Target, Amazon, Steam, and numerous smaller e-commerce stores.

A digital gift card is just the digital equivalent of a regular one. A digital version is much more convenient. You don’t have to take it with you to the store. Thankfully, it’s harder to lose, thanks to digital codes usually available in your email or SMS.

For customers, digital gift cards offer a great last-minute gift opportunity. For e-commerce businesses, the advantage that they offer is that there are no production costs.

They’re also a great way to generate sales. By encouraging gift cards on their platform, you can attract new customers and make the purchasing experience more convenient.

How Do You Use a Digital Gift Card?

The process of using a digital gift card starts with purchasing it. When you decide which platform to purchase from, you must find the related landing page. There, you can browse various options and amounts.

Here’s a great example of a digital gift card landing page for a password manager. 1Password sells digital gift cards in $25, $50, and $100 increments.

Example of 1Password digital gift cards

You can commonly find a $10-$500 card for most platforms. Large retailers such as Best Buy offer general and specialized gift cards.

Different types of gift cards on Best Buy's website
Source: Best Buy

If the recipient plays video games, you can choose a gift card that allows them to purchase gaming equipment or downloadable content.

The next step is entering the recipient’s email and credit card information. This is where you could encounter some hesitation in entering such personal information (more on that in a bit). You can leave your email address here and forward the gift card when needed.

The last step is redeeming the gift card. Once the recipient receives the gift card’s unique code, they can type it in and receive their desired product or service. The convenience of not having to go to the store is a great advantage.

Pro tip: Look for any fine print. For example, you and the recipient must consider whether the e-gift cards are only valid for a limited time.

Cybersecurity Threats of Digital Gift Cards

You’ve likely shopped at large retailers dozens of times as a consumer. Typically, you don’t think twice about entering your credit card information when purchasing online at well-recognized stores.

However, many people enjoy receiving offers and gift cards to shop at small businesses. A small e-commerce store rather than the giants like Walmart might be where they find the perfect product.

In this situation, you must understand how to recognize an untrustworthy website and whether entering your debit or credit card information is safe.

Most importantly, you should check whether the website has an SSL certificate This ensures the encryption of data transmitted between you and the website.

Without it, you’ll likely get a warning from your browser. Third parties can spoof websites that lack this and can cause hackers to gain access to your data.

SSL certificate

A threat to unreputable websites is that they can misuse your information (think your email address or your account data). Let’s take a closer look at different cybersecurity threats.


One serious cyber threat includes phishing attacks. This is a type of scam that includes a fake website posing as a real one. For example, you receive an email message including a “promo offer” from a reputable platform. Once you click the link and the website opens, they’ll ask for your information before sharing the gift card.

However, even though the website might look legit, scammers are the ones who created it and are on the lookout for people they can steal data from.

To help defend yourself against this scenario, you must learn how to spot such websites. They often include domains that are slightly different from the original ones. For example, instead of visiting “,” you could get a redirect to “” or something similar.

Furthermore, someone who's not the person they say they are is likely sending the email you’ve received. So, check whether the email comes from a generic provider such as Gmail. Ideally, the email should come from the original domain address (like

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Even if the email address seems legit, you should look at the website where you got the promotion and see whether this is a standard procedure. Don’t neglect asking in related forums whether someone else had a similar experience.

Fake Gift Cards

There are plenty of gift card scams, with historical data proving the extent of the financial burden.

Gift card scams and losses by quarter

This method includes fraudulent offers of electronic gift cards on online marketplaces such as eBay. You should be very careful when purchasing cards from third parties. In fact, it’s best to avoid this practice altogether.

If you stumble upon an offer for a gift card that’s too good to be true, avoid it. Fake gift cards can include less value than it’s said in the offer, or they have already expired. Unlike regular gift cards, sellers can’t take a picture of them to prove their existence.

Gift Card Generators

One common scam that’s been present on the internet for a long time is gift card generators. They’re usually promoted via social media groups or YouTube. Also, it’s one of the first results that pop up once you search for “free gift cards” on any search engine.

There aren’t many situations where these generators remain active, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Be aware if you find a sentence that says, “For educational purposes only.” Fraudsters use this verbiage in an attempt to avoid legal repercussions. However, some scammers are straightforward and can steal various data from you in this manner.

Gift card generators are often fraudulent software that gathers your personal information. They can also carry malware that can overtake your computer, such as ransomware, or misuse it for crypto mining.

Principles of Safe Digital Transactions

Starting from the process of opening a bank account, there are numerous safety considerations that you need to be aware of when making purchases online.

For example, when you get your credit or debit cards in the mail, ensure that no one else knows your PIN or has a picture of the card itself.

When you are ready to shop online, checking for the SSL certificate mentioned earlier is crucial before entering any personal or financial information.

Here’s how. Click on the lock icon next to the URL, which should say, “Connection is secure.” You can also check whether the website uses HTTPS or HTTP protocol. The former is a more secure variant.

Even if your connection appears encrypted, problems can still occur. Firstly, double-check that it’s not a phishing attempt if you purchase from a well-known website.

If you're purchasing from a less-known e-commerce store, you should first check reviews and feedback from previous customers.

Another important aspect is the process of leaving payment information. You need to ensure that you’re engaging with a reputable payment processor.

Reputable payment systems include PayPal, Stripe, Square, and others. Avoid leaving your information to unknown payment processors.

Another lesson is that even though a website can have an SSL protocol, the payment webpage might forgo it. This is another method of scamming. If this is the case, you should abandon the purchase. In other words, be aware during the entire process.

If you’re a typical customer on a specific website, you can still do a lot to protect yourself. If you’ve been purchasing, for example, airline gift cards for years on a particular website, you should protect your online account. Use strong and random passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication for extra security.

Although they can’t help you directly when purchasing gift cards, using real-time protection in the form of an anti-virus can be pretty helpful. Anti-virus software will warn you when visiting problematic websites and protect you when browsing and downloading.

For example, if someone less tech-savvy who uses your computer downloads software such as a gift card generator, an anti-virus will likely block this software (keeping you safe).

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Measures for Enhancing Cybersecurity

Let’s not forget that retailers must consider many security aspects (rather than imposing all the precautions on their customers). Platforms that offer gift cards must ensure that unauthorized personnel won’t be able to obtain them.

On the other hand, adequate notice can minimize the risk of some of the essential cybersecurity threats previously mentioned. Phishing attempts should appear in the FAQ sections of all websites, and your customers should understand and familiarize themselves with trustworthy practices.

If your e-commerce platform is the only place someone can obtain a certain gift card, ensure your customers know this. Sharing warnings about common scams and educating customers are great ways of increasing trust and reputation.

Most e-commerce websites consist of a content management system and numerous plugins. Some versions of a particular CMS can have security vulnerabilities, and outdated plugins can do more harm than good.

Through regular updates, you can minimize the chances of security leaks and protect your customers while obtaining gift cards.

For example, Henry Meds is a healthcare company that is implementing advanced cybersecurity methods. This is key since they handle clients’ health care and financial information.

For example, in their article on how much semaglutide costs without insurance, Henry Meds provides readers with added value through special price offers. Anytime you share financial information online, the site you deal with must prioritize cybersecurity.

Choosing reliable and secure companies is essential when purchasing online items, such as medicine.

For whatever niche and industry that you can think of, you should always look for websites that ensure that the process is secure and that the website is trustworthy.

Regulatory Framework and Compliance

Protecting customers is an important aspect of every business. Not only do they fall under local and governmental laws and regulations for protecting customers, but international institutions also regulate them.

One example includes the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a regulation adopted by the European Parliament. This document protects customers from companies that exploit their customer data.

While many businesses use customer data to create better marketing campaigns, they often do so in non-compliant ways. As a customer, it’s important to understand how certain businesses treat your privacy and personal information.

For example, you wouldn’t leave your or the recipient’s email on a website if you were misusing customer data. Regulatory bodies might have caused businesses additional costs, but they did a great job protecting individual customers.

Businesses must understand that spending money on cybersecurity and compliance is necessary and deserves a good piece of your budget. That doesn’t mean you must forgo your typical social media management costs.

However, it deserves the investment. Why? Staying compliant protects your data and that of your customers.

Avoiding data breaches or other scams can ensure that businesses don’t get fined for poorly handling user data. Furthermore, fines aren’t the only problems that can occur in the case of a data leak. Blows to a company’s reputation can lead to long-term consequences.

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Conclusion: choosing security over convenience

Virtual gift cards are a fantastic way to share presents with friends and family. They can choose from their favorite brands and have endless online shopping options. However, it’s also important to consider the threats and security principles mentioned in this article.

In some ways, digital codes are much more convenient than physical cards. However, falsifying and using it as a scamming method is also easier. Before purchasing any type of gift card, ensure that the website you’re obtaining satisfies the security considerations.

Furthermore, arm yourself with knowledge about standard credit and gift card scams to avoid them and protect yourself. Keep an eye on emerging trends in digital gift cards and the cybersecurity landscape.