A New Type of Visa Gift Card Fraud
Hello everyone. I know the title is a little bit strong, but something happened to one of my readers the other day when buying a variable load Metabank gift card at a grocery store. I wanted to make sure to get your attention so you know what to look for and learn how best to protect yourself.
A Scary Story
Last night I received an email from Paul about a nightmare he had when purchasing a Metabank variable load Visa gift card at a local grocery store here in Las Vegas. He has been around this hobby for awhile and makes sure to check the packaging in case it has been tampered with.
After verifying the packaging was 100% in tact, he paid for his gift card and went to Walmart to liquidate it. At that point the card was denied and he noticed that four of the digits of the card number were scratched off. He also was eventually able to verify that the magnetic strip was cleaned of any data. The card was worthless and useless.
Here is what happened in his words:
So something happened to me today you might want to warn you readers about. I bought a 500.00 card today, I always make sure it has not been tampered with and the bar code is still covered. Well went to load it at Walmart and noticed 4 of the digits had been scratched off the card and the magnetic strip was wiped clean. It would not swipe of course. I went back to the store to show the manager and we proceeded to open that last 3 on the shelf and same thing with all of them.
So based on his experience, it seems likely that one of two things has happened with these cards:
- The cards are being tampered with before leaving the factory
- Someone is taking cards, altering them and then using counterfeit packaging to put them back on the shelves.
I really don’t know which of these scenarios is more plausible, but the fact remains that these tampered with cards were somehow completely sealed inside of the package with absolutely no tampering. Paul has made it clear that the packages did not have a rip, tear or any other opening.
How to Protect Yourself
The manager told Paul how best to protect himself and I think it is a good strategy. If you are purchasing these cards bring them up to the register like you normally would. After the cashier scans them (but before you swipe your credit card), make sure to take the card out of the package and inspect it. That way you can verify the card hasn’t been altered.
I’m not going to lie and say that every cashier will be happy with you trying to do this, but perhaps you can explain the situation. If you bring the cards up to the cashier already opened, then they will suspect you of doing something. Always make sure to open them after they are scanned, but before you swipe your credit card.
This is a really scary type of fraud, because it is nearly impossible to see beforehand. How they are getting these tampered cards into the packages is beyond me, but I know I will be extra careful when purchasing these cards in the future. While Paul will be able to get his money back because he caught the fraud right away, it will be a hassle I’m sure. Oh and how many people don’t check these cards right away? A lot I’m sure.
If you have encountered anything similar to this please let us know in the comments.