Thieves drain gift card before you can use it

Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 18:09:46-05

Millions of people received gift cards this past Christmas.

Now, many of those people are finally getting around to spending them.

But some are discovering the card was already used.

From $100 Down to Zero

Melissa Davis thought her daughter would love the VISA gift card she gave her. Turned out: not so much.

"I went to a local store, local grocery store, and purchased a VISA gift card, a $100 VISA card," Davis said. " She waited about a month, had her hair fixed, used the VISA for payment, and it came up zero balance."
The $100 card was empty, leaving her daughter embarrassed, and her mom livid.

"I was a little upset.  Very upset, when she told me," Davis said.

The Northern Kentucky woman had purchased it at a local Kroger store. So she went back to the customer service desk, but she said, "they were not very receptive to my dilemma."

We contacted VISA, and Kroger, which promised to investigate, and "make things right" for her, by refunding the value of the card.

A Kroger spokesperson said they really have no idea how her card was drained, but says cases like this are very rare.

Don't Let this Happen to You

The Better Business Bureau says the most common way this happens is:

  • Thieves cut open gift card packages discretely.
  • They copy the numbers, then put them back on the rack.
  • They check the card number daily online.
  • When the store activates it, they start shopping. Sometimes they drain it before you get it home.

Davis checked VISA's website, and says the card appeared to have been used to buy a cell phone.

"They were able to use the card, without the card, which was really interesting, because I didn't think they could do that."

But they can use the card without having it in their possession, which is why the BBB says always check gift cards for signs indicating the cardboard cover was tampered with.

And it goes without saying you should always save the cash register receipt showing that it was activated.

That way you don't waste your money.

Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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