We all have challenging people to buy for on our gift list. Giving a cash gift card is an easy option, right?
Imagine purchasing a gift card as a gift, and then receiving a phone call from the recipient, informing you that the card only had $2.88 on it. That's what happened after I purchased a $75 gift card as a birthday gift. I went to the store, purchased the debit card, and activated it with $75. I tucked it into my purse, and then a few hours later, placed it in a card and gave the gift. That was on a Saturday. When the recipient tried to use it on the Monday, only $2.88 remained on the card. The card never left my possession, and was in a cardboard package when I bought it. The gift card number wasn't visible until the package was opened, so I knew that the card number wasn't stolen before I purchased it.
I was pretty surprised, and wasn't entirely sure what to do. First, I checked my receipt to make sure that the card was actually activated. It was. I asked for the gift card back so that I could figure out what was going on.
When I tracked the card through the provider's website, I found out that it had been used online shortly after I'd activated it. In fact, it had been used several times, and even had some money refunded.
My next step was to call the card provider. They sent me a form to sign, certifying that they weren't my charges, and then promised to investigate the charges. That process was to take 6-8 weeks.
About six weeks later, I received a letter stating that the investigation showed that those were indeed fraudulent charges. The next day, I received a letter with a brand new gift card. While it was great to get all the money back, it was a long time to wait to give a gift. I felt bad that my dad's birthday was in September, but he didn't actually get the gift card until early December.
Will this stop me from buying debit cards for gifts? No – I'll still do it. But I'll probably limit how much I spend, knowing that it's possible that the money could be held up for a while. I never found out how the card number was stolen – but it was done quickly.
Have you had a gift card number stolen?
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