How to Activate Stolen Gift Cards

If you have a stolen gift card on you that is not activated, it is useless plastic. Thus, this article shows how to activate stolen gift cards, at least to make them useful, or you simply dispose of them.

how to activate stolen gift cards


To activate a stolen gift card, take a picture of the barcode on another gift card and use it immediately when the legitimate owner activates it. Or, you can just walk into the retail store and try to convince the cashier to activate the stolen gift cards without paying.

Meanwhile, a 2021 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data shows that consumers reported losing $148 million in gift cards scams. This is a sign that there is a lot of money to make collecting stolen gift cards you can activate or that are preactivated.


A preactivated gift card does not require the cashier to activate it. In your case, however, you possess a gift card that requires activation which may not come easy.

Meanwhile, a gift card not activated will state “manual activation is required, will only be after purchase”, it could also be anything similar to this. This means that the cashier must activate the card using a unique serial number to verify it after payment.

Can you activate a stolen gift card?

Generally, you cannot activate a stolen gift card if you are not the owner. We are not ruling out the fact that a stolen gift card can always be activated in some way.

A gift card is activated through the register it is purchased from. So, if you have a stolen gift card that is not activated, it is ‘nearly’ useless. You can make it useful only by having a cashier activate it for you.


Unfortunately, no reputable and honest retailer will activate a gift card for you if is stolen. Theoretically, the stolen gift card you possess has numbers on it that are also in the inventory, so it could be traced if stolen.

How to Activate Stolen Gift Cards

Stealing gift cards may be easy but getting them activated without paying does not come easy. But if you can activate the gift card, you can easily get away with it.

Below are steps regarding how to activate stolen gift cards:

  1. Finding a store you can trick

We do not doubt your ability to activate and get away with a stolen gift card even though it is not a walk in the park.

First, find a store whose mode of operations and security you understand and can bypass.

Start by getting a legitimate and cheap gift card from the store to know how cashiers handle gift card transactions and your chances to get a stolen one activated. For instance, some stores will staple the receipt on the gift card while some do not.

Take note of the surveillance cameras while in the store. You also want to pay attention to the cashier’s attitude, as well as guage your chances of having the stolen gift card activated.

  1. Activating your gift card

This is not going to be easy. Make sure you do not also have yourself trapped inside while attempting this. What this means is that you should use a retail store you can easily escape from if things go south. Of course, you do not want to leave camera traces to protect your identity.

When you meet the retailing shop or cashier, explain that you want your gift card activated. The cashiers are no fools, so you will not just get things your way without looking natural.

You could say you obtained the cards for your birthday but they are not working and that your friends did not give you the receipt.

How about saying that Granny gave the cards to you but they are not activated. Explain that you cannot get in touch with her presently.

You can also contact the merchant or issuance company. For instance, if it is an Visa gift card, contact and explain to Visa that you have a purchased gift card that does not work.

  1. Use the barcode from a legitimate gift card

You can also activate a stolen gift card by taking a photo of the barcode on another legit gift card. When that legit gift card is activated by the owner, you use it immediately. This is quite common with grocery gift cards.

  1. Do not hesitate to pull out

If you are contacting a physical store, do not hesitate to back down so that things do not go south. Be friendly with the cashier, perhaps, it will stop them from calling the cops if they suspect you have stolen gift cards.

If the attempt is successful or fails, do not use the store for some weeks, you will get caught.

Note that your action could be costing the innocent cashier. Perhaps, you want to rethink your move.

Can you activate a stolen gift card without the cashier or issuance company?

Will stolen gift cards work
Gift card cashier

You need access to the cashier or issuance company’s system to activate a stolen gift card. Otherwise, you want to indulge in robbery to obtain the cashier system or the gateway device to forcefully find your way to activate the stolen gift card. Unfortunately, this is not one of those movie kinds of stuff.

You could also casually obtain the login details by glancing at the papers on the counters of the cashier. Some cashiers have the habit of writing the logins on some notes on the counter, you just have to figure it out.

How does cashier activate gift cards?

A cashier activates a gift card after you pay them. Since yours is a stolen gift card, this will not be the case. If you give a stolen gift card to a cashier to activate, they may be able to tell if it is stolen if the legitimate owner reported it stolen.

Read also: How to Ask for Cash and Gift Cards for Wedding

Normally, if a gift card has not been paid for when the cashier scans it into their system, it will show ‘Pending’ on the screen. ‘Pending’ on the gift card means that the POS terminal is waiting for the payment to be made.

The gift card transaction is processed through a third-party service installed on the cashier’s terminal for activation. You will also receive the activation slip, and sometimes the transaction receipt depending on the store.

Stores typically use third-party companies such as Blackberry, Blackmark, Blackwater, etc., to activate the gift card over their servers.

What happens if you use a stolen gift card?

Activate gift card without cashier

If you use a stolen gift card traceable to you, you can be arrested and prosecuted. However, this depends on the type of gift card you stole. If it is like a prepaid reloadable Visa or MasterCard gift card, it has the features of a bank card and can be reported, getting you caught when you use it.

If the owner of the gift card has not reported the gift card stolen, nothing will happen and the transaction you use it for will process successfully.

If the gift card is a random store gift card, it works like cash, you could say it is like a stolen $20 bill. Thus, the stolen gift cannot be zeroed out since there is no proof that you stole it.

In a legal sense, it is illegal to use a stolen gift card. You can be arrested, jailed, and fined depending on the value of the gift card.

Read: Working ways you could make your first direct deposit

Final Thoughts

Again, activating a stolen gift card will not be so easy. It is better to have a preactivated gift card to bypass the headache of activation since it does not belong to you.

By the way, stealing a gift card from a store costs the store and company the money spent on making the card. It only becomes useful when you activate money in it.

If you have multiple stolen gift cards, it is advisable to dispose of them or try to return them to the owner. But if you must steal, pray you do not get caught. Do not also use the same store for numerous stolen gift card activations.

See also: School students investment inventing new ways to sneak mobile phones inside classrooms

It is all fun until you get caught.

The Family Instructor
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