Target Gift Card Balance Stolen

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Jan 4, 2018
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#1
On December 3rd 2017 I purchased $300 worth of Target GC from Target Buena Park. I made small purchases and my last authorized transaction left me with a balance of $260.98. When I attempted to use the gift card, I found out that the gift card had been fully redeemed. I checked the last 5 transactions and found out that unauthorized transactions had been made with my gift card, including one that totaled $211.

I called target's gift card department, was transferred to a gift card specialist, and my case was referred to the leadership team. Today, I received an email from Target saying that my gift card balance cannot be restored.

I'm not sure exactly what to do so I came here looking for help.
Current plan:
1. File a police report with the Buena Park police department
2. Email target executives, starting with the executive vice president and chief stores officer.

I can figure out how to file the police report, but I'm not sure what to include in the email to the executives. Also, are there any steps/details that I'm missing in my plan? I would appreciate any help.
 
Jan 4, 2018
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#3
You bought the cards from a Target store? How did you pay for them? You didn’t use gift cards to purchase them did you?

Have you ever had an account with Target that was closed before?
I bought a physical gift card from a Target store in Buena Park with my Discover credit card.

I have never had an account closed with Target before. (Both RED card and Target.com account are open)
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#4
Thanks for that info. This is a first here- every other situation we have had the situation has never been one like this. When you used the card last- did you have to hand the card over to the cashier for her/Him to access the PIN? When you purchased the card- was the PIN coveted by one of those scratch off things or was the PIN visible?

It sounds like someone (perhaps a store employee we redeemed your card?) might have gotten the pin code.

We have company contacts on top of our page and I think you should start with the Executives.

Write to the first executive listed and tell him/her the story. State you made purchases with no problem but the last time you used it at such and such store (tell them where) the balance disappeared and you cannot get information on who or where the rest was redeemed.

I might suggest in the letter and ask if it is possible that a store employee might have written down your pin and redeemed the balance and if there is any possibility that there might be a store employee there might be less than honest and doing this to others.

Give the first executive a week to reply. If no reply or they don’t help- move to the next. Repeat weekly until you get to the top.

Let us know what happened.

This also happened to our fearless leader @Christopher Elliott

http://www.elliott.org/blog/gift-cards-keep-disappearing-2/
 
Jan 4, 2018
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#5
Thanks for that info. This is a first here- every other situation we have had the situation has never been one like this. When you used the card last- did you have to hand the card over to the cashier for her/Him to access the PIN? When you purchased the card- was the PIN coveted by one of those scratch off things or was the PIN visible?

It sounds like someone (perhaps a store employee we redeemed your card?) might have gotten the pin code.

We have company contacts on top of our page and I think you should start with the Executives.

Write to the first executive listed and tell him/her the story. State you made purchases with no problem but the last time you used it at such and such store (tell them where) the balance disappeared and you cannot get information on who or where the rest was redeemed.

I might suggest in the letter and ask if it is possible that a store employee might have written down your pin and redeemed the balance and if there is any possibility that there might be a store employee there might be less than honest and doing this to others.

Give the first executive a week to reply. If no reply or they don’t help- move to the next. Repeat weekly until you get to the top.

Let us know what happened.

This also happened to our fearless leader @Christopher Elliott

http://www.elliott.org/blog/gift-cards-keep-disappearing-2/
When I made the last transaction, I believe I used the self checkout machine but the machine gave me an error message so a store employee assisted me. When I bought the card, the card # and access # was covered by the scratch off things.

Thank you for assisting me with this problem. If it isn't too much to ask, would you mind reviewing the email draft I have written up so far?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
If the Target gift card had been physically visible this may be how the number was stolen:

"Another very common method of gift card fraud is committed is through stealing numbers off physical gift cards. Gift cards work essentially the same as credit cards with a mag stripe—the gift card number is printed on the card for manual key entry and is also encoded on a mag stripe on the back of the card.

The mag stripe number is plain text and can be read with a mag stripe reader purchased for $15 from eBay or an electronics store. Gift cards may or may not have an additional level of security, a PIN number covered with a coating, similar to a lottery ticket, that needs to be scratched off.


Mag stripe reader from an Ebay auction; June 20, 2015
Some merchants, such as Starbucks, do not require the customer to enter in a PIN number when using the card. The customer simply swipes the card and they’re good to go. Other merchants do use PIN numbers, which offers an additional layer of protection – the redeemer needs to have the physical card in possession in order to use it.

Gift cards are not usable until they are activated at the cash register. In many stores, gift cards are sitting out in an accessible place. People have been known to steal a stack of cards, bring them home, write down the numbers (or script it out using a mag stripe reader) and then sneak them back into the store and place them on the shelf.

Brazen criminals can write down or take pictures of the numbers down right in the store. From there, it’s a waiting game. Most merchants offer a way to check gift card balances online – the fraudsters will repeatedly check balances on the merchant’s website and wait until they are activated by a legitimate purchase. When they are, transferring balances to another card or converting into cash by using a third-party redeemer drains the balances out.

There are no reported incidents of POS skimmers used to grab gift card numbers, but this attack would work as well.

The addition of a PIN number can delay a fraudster, but not deter them entirely. They can scratch off the coating, revealing the PIN and replace it with a new sticker easily purchased from eBay."

from https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-s...d-how-its-committed-and-why-its-so-lucrative/
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 4, 2018
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#8
Sure! Post it here, we’d be happy to help.
"Dear Mrs. Potts,

On December 3, 2017, I purchased a Target gift card of $300 at a Target store in Buena Park during the 10% sale. Knowing that I would shop at Target throughout the next year, purchasing the maximum amount at a discounted price seemed like a no brainier. The gift card worked flawlessly at first but when I tried to use the gift card on December 18, 2017, I was astonished to find the gift card was completely redeemed.

I called the gift card number to check my last 5 transactions and was shocked to discover multiple unauthorized transactions, including a purchase of $219.02 on December 12. I called the gift card department, was transferred to a gift card specialist, and had my case referred to the leadership team. Today I received an email from Target that my gift card balance is unable to be restored, despite the charges being fraudulent and unauthorized.

What I found extremely suspicious is that the unauthorized charge of $219.02 was made in the same store that I bought the gift card in. The physical card itself and the numbers were never shared with anyone, so I question whether there may be a less than honest store employee doing this to others. If not, I worry that there may be other victims of this fraudulent behavior.

Target is by far my favorite retail store to shop in and the loss of this gift card is devastating for me. There is the monetary loss, but I also feel a loss of trust in Target as a company.

Mrs. Potts, security footage will reveal that the purchases were not made by me and also show who made the fraudulent transactions. I do not have access to those tapes, so I ask for your help in proving that the charges were unauthorized and in restoring my gift card balance.

I have attached a picture of the gift card and the original receipt.

Sincerely,
My Name"
 
Jan 4, 2018
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#9
If the Target gift card had been physically visible this may be how the number was stolen:

"Another very common method of gift card fraud is committed is through stealing numbers off physical gift cards. Gift cards work essentially the same as credit cards with a mag stripe—the gift card number is printed on the card for manual key entry and is also encoded on a mag stripe on the back of the card.

The mag stripe number is plain text and can be read with a mag stripe reader purchased for $15 from eBay or an electronics store. Gift cards may or may not have an additional level of security, a PIN number covered with a coating, similar to a lottery ticket, that needs to be scratched off.


Mag stripe reader from an Ebay auction; June 20, 2015
Some merchants, such as Starbucks, do not require the customer to enter in a PIN number when using the card. The customer simply swipes the card and they’re good to go. Other merchants do use PIN numbers, which offers an additional layer of protection – the redeemer needs to have the physical card in possession in order to use it.

Gift cards are not usable until they are activated at the cash register. In many stores, gift cards are sitting out in an accessible place. People have been known to steal a stack of cards, bring them home, write down the numbers (or script it out using a mag stripe reader) and then sneak them back into the store and place them on the shelf.

Brazen criminals can write down or take pictures of the numbers down right in the store. From there, it’s a waiting game. Most merchants offer a way to check gift card balances online – the fraudsters will repeatedly check balances on the merchant’s website and wait until they are activated by a legitimate purchase. When they are, transferring balances to another card or converting into cash by using a third-party redeemer drains the balances out.

There are no reported incidents of POS skimmers used to grab gift card numbers, but this attack would work as well.

The addition of a PIN number can delay a fraudster, but not deter them entirely. They can scratch off the coating, revealing the PIN and replace it with a new sticker easily purchased from eBay."

from https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-s...d-how-its-committed-and-why-its-so-lucrative/

This seems like a possible way the fraudulent charges occurred. Considering two of the unauthorized transactions were made in the same store that I purchased the gift card in, the criminal probably had physical access to the gift card somehow.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,719
12,710
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
The letter is excellent.

And the large purchase WAS at the same store you made the last purchase? I think that says an awful lot! Someone at the store got that PIn or perhaps there was a skimmer on the register you used.

I might ask in the letter to have them review their security tapes in the store for the time the $219 purchase was made to see who made the purchase because it wasn’t you.
 
Jan 4, 2018
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#11
The letter is excellent.

And the large purchase WAS at the same store you made the last purchase? I think that says an awful lot! Someone at the store got that PIn or perhaps there was a skimmer on the register you used.

I might ask in the letter to have them review their security tapes in the store for the time the $219 purchase was made to see who made the purchase because it wasn’t you.

Thanks a lot for all the help. I will return next Friday (1/12) to provide an update.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
I am a little late to this but I would not put the blame possibly on a target employee--do not want them to get defensive. I would point out that the cards are kept in the open and a thief can scam and clone and your gift card balance was stolen.

Good luck.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#13
I am a little late to this but I would not put the blame possibly on a target employee--do not want them to get defensive. I would point out that the cards are kept in the open and a thief can scam and clone and your gift card balance was stolen.

Good luck.
Agreed, and I would add to your appeal where you were when the $211 charge was made (assuming you can see the date and time).
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#14
you should be pursuing this with the target store where the purchase was made. call that store immediately and ask to see the register tape from the time and day of purchase.

go to the police department and file a theft report

Bring all that to Target
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,719
12,710
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
This is actually the most interesting case we’ve had because the entire process that has been described here - the writer bought the card legitimately at a Target store sign a valid credit card, using the card AT a store and that same store being where a large balance of the card was redeemed- reeks of store problems at the particular store.

This isn’t one of the normal ones we have had here where there is a lot of hokey stuff that happened.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#16
This is actually the most interesting case we’ve had because the entire process that has been described here - the writer bought the card legitimately at a Target store sign a valid credit card, using the card AT a store and that same store being where a large balance of the card was redeemed- reeks of store problems at the particular store.

This isn’t one of the normal ones we have had here where there is a lot of hokey stuff that happened.
another reason why the writer should pursue the tapes at the target store and file a police report. It gives the situation more credibility.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#18
Thank you for replying back and letting us know that it was resolved and, more importantly, why it was decided.

Question: did you file a police report?
Question: how long after the card was used fraudulently did they review the tapes?

I'm just trying to get a sense of how future posters will need to pursue their cases, if they hope to win.

Thanks!
 
Jan 4, 2018
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#19
Thank you for replying back and letting us know that it was resolved and, more importantly, why it was decided.

Question: did you file a police report?
Question: how long after the card was used fraudulently did they review the tapes?

I'm just trying to get a sense of how future posters will need to pursue their cases, if they hope to win.

Thanks!
1. I did not follow a police report. I believe what helped my case, in addition to the CCTV, was that I kept a receipt of the original gift card and receipts of all the purchases I made with the gift card.
2. The first fraudulent charge made with the gift card was on December 12, 2017. I called the gift card department around Dec 22nd, and was basically rejected until I reached out to Janna Potts. I reached out to her January 4, 2018, and received a reply about 2 days later. That response said they were reopening the investigation, but I have no clue when they actually reviewed the footage.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#20
1. I did not follow a police report. I believe what helped my case, in addition to the CCTV, was that I kept a receipt of the original gift card and receipts of all the purchases I made with the gift card.
2. The first fraudulent charge made with the gift card was on December 12, 2017. I called the gift card department around Dec 22nd, and was basically rejected until I reached out to Janna Potts. I reached out to her January 4, 2018, and received a reply about 2 days later. That response said they were reopening the investigation, but I have no clue when they actually reviewed the footage.
thanks again!
 
Likes: VoR61