KHOU 11 Investigates: Gift Card Draining

There's a digital crime growing in popularity called gift card draining. Unsuspecting card holders have no idea they're a victim until it's time to redeem the cards.

There's a digital crime growing in popularity called gift card draining. Unsuspecting card holders have no idea they're a victim until it's time to redeem the cards.

It happened to Don Morris from Magnolia.

As a retirement gift, Don was authorized to use his company credit card to purchase a Home Depot gift card for $325 dollars.

A month later, he tried to use it.

"When we went to the store it was $2.04, unbelievable," he said.

Unbelievable because the Morris's never lost sight of the card from the time they bought it.

They tried reaching out to Home Depot.

"Six hours on the phone and at the end of the day they wouldn't do anything to help me resolve it," Don recalled.

Don soon discovered he was a victim of gift card draining.

Crooks literally grab cards from shelves and either use a skimmer or jot down the numbers. They'll even scratch off to get the PIN and replace it with what's called zebra stickers. The stickers are easily found online. Then, the cards are placed back on the rack.

Dan Parsons with the Better Business Bureau says for the hackers, this is a waiting game.

"They've got your information and they sit out there and follow like the stock market," Parsons explained. "They'll check every couple of days to see if it's been activated."

Parsons suggests buying a gift card online and not from the rack at your local grocery store. He also says to closely inspecting any gift card you purchase and make sure to keep the receipt.

Don ended up filing a police report and discovered that 2 days after activating the card, someone bought tools online and had them shipped to Galveston.

It wasn't him.

"I'm in state the stuff is in state," Don said. "But I still don't have a Makita drill or clamps!"

So, we got in touch with Home Depot on Don's behalf and shared his receipts and pictures. They replaced the gift card and gave him an extra $100 dollar card for the hassle.

It seems that his complaint never made it to the correct department.

A Home Depot spokesperson responded by saying, "We're sorry for the inconvenience Mr. Morris experienced and we're glad we could replace his gift card. Anyone who experiences a gift card problem should call 800-HOMEDEPOT."

Retailers and restaurants encourage consumers with gift card troubles to reach out to them for a resolution.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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