Old Apr 13, 2015, 12:55 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: phant0m
************Gift Card Fraud Alert************

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

How can I protect myself?

1) Do not buy a card that has been opened or looks tampered with. Inspect all packaging thoroughly before purchasing. Many posters say that the packaging looks pristine, but the glue seems excessive once opened. Open the package to inspect the glue before you pay for it, if the cashier allows that.

2) Use the card quickly. The card has no value until YOU add money. If you spend your funds before the fraudster figures out that it's loaded, you win. Or at least register your card. That might give you another layer of security but beware it might NOT be bulletproof.

3) Keep your receipts and packaging until your card is liquidated. You will need the receipt to make a claim.

I'll add a few more from the school of hard knocks (also now known as the school of the paranoid MSer)....

4) If it's the only card of its type left on the rack, should you buy it or not? Consider: did the fraudster remove all the other cards so some sucker would quickly come along quickly and buy the card he has placed there purposefully?

5) A corollary to #4: Should you buy the top card in a stack of cards, or dig deeper and pick out one a distance from the top? Did the fraudster put the card he wants some sucker to buy at the top of the stack so it would sell quickly and he could do his evil deed?

6) Open card packages soon after purchase. Don't wait a few days. If anything looks amiss (too much glue inside the pack, too little glue inside, glue in the wrong location, mag stripe doesn't look right, some card numbers illegible), call the 800 number on the back of the card immediately to report it and ask about a replacement.



Each link of Gift Card MS:

1. Gift Card issuer: Vanilla, Metabank, US Bank, Green Dot etc. There can be data hack. It is rare.
2. GC Merchant: grocery and drug stores. Online GC sellers (Simon Mall, Gift Card Mall etc.). The data hack is possible, but rare.
3. Shipping: GCs can be stolen. But this is not fraud.
4. GC Cash Out: Walmart, Dollar General, Family Dollar, CVS etc. This is very rare.

For unsold GCs with bar code exposed, the store is required to destroy the GCs. Fraud can happen when the unsuspecting store staff return the unsold GCs back to the shelf. But it is very rare to have a batch of GCs all tampered and returned to the store shelf.

Here is a web site with information about gift card fraud:

http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-sec...-so-lucrative/



Here are some stores where FT members have experienced fraud:

List of Stores to avoid or be Alert:
(1) Reported by IWOL in So Cal:
VONS => Ventura Blvd & Reseda

Reported by Lovenola:

Ralph's in Downey at 9200 Lakewood Blvd.

Ralph's in Pasadena at 211 E. Foothill Blvd.

Ralph's in Monrovia at 1193 Huntington Dr.

3) Reported by domino007

Ralphs in 13321 Jamboree Rd, Tustin

Ralphs in Irvine on Alton, Walnut and Irvine Blvd

Reported by DaveInLA:
Ralphs in Brea- 305 W Imperial Hwy. VGC was purchased in 12/2014.

Reported by 46sky:
Ralphs in Culver City on Venice Blvd - VGC purchased 2/2015.

Reported by Chrisflyer66:
Ralphs in San Diego on Sports Arena - VGCs purchased in 2014-2015.

Ralph's - 1435 W Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92868 - Purchased 12/2019

Seems to me that only People in so.Cal are reporting
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Gift Card Fraud !!!

Old Jul 15, 2014, 7:09 am
  #91  
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No. Now I check all the packaging and no evidence. I wonder how this happens.
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 7:15 am
  #92  
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When you touch the magnetic stripe it feels like, you put some sand mixed with glue and after it become hard. The surface feels so uneven. I could not find ay difference on the outside of the packaging.
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 8:11 am
  #93  
 
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Basically, the packaging is carefully opened up, the magnetic strip is somehow disabled with glue or solvent, and the packaging is glued back together

Last edited by Alcibiades; Jul 15, 2014 at 8:04 pm
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 7:44 pm
  #94  
 
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I want to say a huge thankyou to the OP and others for discussing this type of fraud. Tonight I went to a store I've purchased VGC from previously... there was ONE left on the rack, and when I turned it over, the part of the pkg that covers the card#/barcode had been torn away.

Due to the warnings posted on FT, I passed it up instead of buying. I debated a couple seconds, then decided to stand in line at Customer Service to turn in the GC and warn the clerk it had possibly been compromised. She told me Winn-Dixie has a process that prevents the card from being pre-stolen.

I tried to explain that once exposed, the card's info can be stolen & applied to a different card, but she assured me that WD's activation process prevents that.

Either way, I didn't buy the card, and hopefully it won't be placed back on the shelf for some other poor sap to get robbed. Just wanted to say a HUGE thankyou to Sam2014 & Hamhead for their warnings. I hope this helps others.
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 7:46 pm
  #95  
 
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P.S. It's possible the disturbed card was just re-shelved, but this store accepts credit-cards for VGC. So THAT logical excuse doesn't apply here.
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 7:56 pm
  #96  
 
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Originally Posted by styxfire
the part of the pkg that covers the card#/barcode had been torn away


I tried to explain that once exposed, the card's info can be stolen & applied to a different card, but she assured me that WD's activation process prevents that.
It sounds like just the barcode itself was exposed and easily readable, not the 16 digit card number on the other side ?
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 8:01 pm
  #97  
 
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Originally Posted by styxfire
P.S. It's possible the disturbed card was just re-shelved, but this store accepts credit-cards for VGC. So THAT logical excuse doesn't apply here.
What does accepting CC for VGC have to do with reshelving ?

I sometimes find cards without a back strip that have been reshelved. I had the cashier open it up completely to make sure there was no physical tampering of any kind, and purchased it.
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Old Jul 15, 2014, 8:12 pm
  #98  
 
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Originally Posted by Alcibiades
What does accepting CC for VGC have to do with reshelving ?

I sometimes find cards without a back strip that have been reshelved. I had the cashier open it up completely to make sure there was no physical tampering of any kind, and purchased it.
Checking for a sticker bar code is still a easy well to tell. I know cashiers don't really look for that but it is something to look out for since it can be flushed with the rest of the background if not inspected closely.
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 3:07 pm
  #99  
 
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Originally Posted by Sam2014
I have the same problem with a Meta bank gift card I purchased from a grocery store in so-cal last month. I already posted that in a previous thread.

I have purchased a US bank visa gift card from Ralphs and when I try to call to check the balance and set a PIN, automatic voice system wont recognize the card number. I call the customer service and the agent said the card is not activated properly. She said, I have to fax the receipt and some other documents to their office. Due to my other experience I got very frustrated and also I was going out of the country the very next day of this incident.

The magnetic stripe has the same problem as others specified. There was not any indication of any tampering on the outside cover. I have called atleast 10 times and talk with different customer service agents. Some of them said they activated the card. When I checked the balance it wont accept the number. At last after a day of frustration one agent was able to activate the card. Then the card reader wont read the card. Even after I remove the gummy thing on the magnetic strip the card wont work.

I dont want someone taking the money on the card like last time. So immediately I have to liquidate the card using another method. It is very scary to buy a gift card from a store in so-cal. I live near Hemet.

I want to make picture of the card and post it but I already removed and cleaned the thing on the magnetic stripe. One hint is normally there will be some soft glue on the card but this is specifically very hard and not soft substance on the magnetic stripe. Hope this helps
This happened to me with an OV from CVS. I still have packaging and receipt. When I try to call to check the balance and set a PIN, automatic voice system wont recognize the card number. I call the customer service and the agent said the card is not activated properly. She said, I have to fax the receipt and some other documents to their office.

This is for Incomm, she started a case for me and said it should be resolved in 3-5 business days. Reading all these stories though has me scared, not sure what to do?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 3:28 pm
  #100  
 
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Originally Posted by compddd
This happened to me with an OV from CVS
What happened to you with an OV does not seem related to other stories on this thread
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 4:00 pm
  #101  
 
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How so? Sam2014 described the same thing that the CSR told him when he called to say his card showed didn't exist?
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Old Aug 18, 2014, 5:02 pm
  #102  
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Originally Posted by compddd
How so? Sam2014 described the same thing that the CSR told him when he called to say his card showed didn't exist?
Sam2014's card seemed to be replaced by another card when the card that related to the package was already taken out, waiting for someone to buy that package (thus activated the stolen card).

Yours seems to be the card not being properly activated - that sometimes happens at CVS or other merchants.
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Old Sep 4, 2014, 1:20 pm
  #103  
 
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Gift Card Fraud...dispute with CC issuer?

I purchased a $500 Metabank VGC at Vons last week and it had been tampered with. The scammers drained the card the next day before I even had a chance to use it.

I have filed a dispute with Metabank and they are telling me it will be 45 to 90 days to get a resolution.

That seems like an unreasonable amount of time to wait without even knowing if I will get a refund. What about filing a dispute on the purchase of the gift card directly with the CC issuer which happens to be Comenity Bank.

I purchased a product for $500 and did not get what I paid for. Why should I have to wait 90 days to get a refund?

Anyone have experience with this?
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Old Sep 4, 2014, 2:46 pm
  #104  
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I had the same problem. They told me that I have to wait 45 to 90 days for the resolution. To my surprise I got the money back within 3 to 4 days.
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Old Sep 4, 2014, 3:16 pm
  #105  
 
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Originally Posted by IWOL
I purchased a $500 Metabank VGC at Vons last week and it had been tampered with. The scammers drained the card the next day before I even had a chance to use it.

I have filed a dispute with Metabank and they are telling me it will be 45 to 90 days to get a resolution.

That seems like an unreasonable amount of time to wait without even knowing if I will get a refund. What about filing a dispute on the purchase of the gift card directly with the CC issuer which happens to be Comenity Bank.

I purchased a product for $500 and did not get what I paid for. Why should I have to wait 90 days to get a refund?

Anyone have experience with this?
What did the packaging look like on the VGC? Did you fully inspect to ensure that the packaging did not looked tampered (back perforation ripped off, unusual cuts/slits on the side of the packaging, top and bottom sides of packaging was cuts/slits, glue inside packaging doesn't seem sticky, etc)? Not sure why you took so long to liquidate the funds. I would have tried to liquidate the VGC ASAP.

The reason why it takes so long (90 days) is because they need to investigate what happened to the funds. They can't just take your word for it and give you the funds immediately now or else people could just call in and cry wolf that their card funds were stripped, get the MB funds in return and drain those immediately. It sucks to be in your situation but unless you have more details on what the packaging looked like and where it was liquidated at, its hard for MB to justify giving you funds until they have done their due diligence. Honestly if you can't float $500 for 3 months then you probably should not be in this game.

Last edited by ericdabbs; Sep 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm
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