Buyer Beware

Gift Card Scams

Gift cards, glorious gift cards!! The go to gift when you don't know what to get someone! 

It's the holidays. The number one gift that everyone gets, next to socks, is a gift card. They are simple and you virtually cannot go wrong. Or can you? I just recently had a brush with this issue and I wanted to share it with you all. 

I get the same present from my Aunt and Uncle every year on Christmas. Target gift card. There is nothing wrong with that and honestly it gives me an excuse to go to that store. I took my normal "after Christmas trip to Target" so I could pick up a few things. When I got to the cash register to pay, the cashier said that the gift card balance was $0. What?! I just got it. After a few attempts to rectify the matter, even having her manually type the gift card number in twice, it still showed $0. To avoid the overwhelming embarrassment, I dug around in my purse and managed to scrounge up the bills and change to pay. I left not only disappointed, but almost fuming. Whose head was I going to have to rip off now? It wasn't the cashier's fault, nor my Aunt and Uncle. 

After getting home, calming down a bit, I decided to call customer service. I was still a little irritated, but not as seething. Speaking with the customer service person was no help the first time around, (in my frustration, I actually told the person to "Fuck off," which I never do because I have been on that end before and it's not fun.) I decided to call it a night and try again in the morning. 

Calling in the morning is honestly your better bet in my opinion if you ever have to deal with this. You actually get someone who is able to help you and not repeat the same information back to you or ask for the same information you just gave them not moments before. It had turned out that my gift card had been used at another location that I was nowhere near, just days before the gift card was given to me! I had a case opened up and it is currently being investigated as I am typing this out. 

When relaying the information back to my Aunt, she told me that she had called the store where she purchased it from and spoke to the Manager/Loss Prevention manager. He reviewed the tapes and said that there was nothing suspicious with the employee during the transaction. Which, in other cases, it is the employee stealing. But, per the footage, nothing. He also mentioned that there is a new trend happening. 

Apparently, thieves will pick out the gift cards that they want, peel off the scratch off sticker, write down all of the information, and then put the sticker back on. Then they will watch the gift card activity and wait for an unsuspecting customer to purchase and activate the gift card. Once the gift card is activated, thieves will use it at their leisure. 

In closing, I would like to give a brief word of advice: when purchasing gift cards, make sure you double check the balance before gifting. It is always better to be safe than sorry later on. I just hope that no one else has to deal with this. I was lucky enough to get everything sorted out. I don't mind waiting a couple of weeks to get a replacement. But someone else might not be so lucky.