Gift Card Scam at the Checkout Line: Check Your Receipts!


She had pocketed four of my gift cards and tried to get me to pay for them twice. The store has video cameras on every cashier, so once we went over the whole story, (especially with the two gift cards she tried to drop), they were able to figure out what happened.

I felt so incredibly violated. She knew I was an easy target –- Christmas hustle, being distracted by a little one, and buying a shopping cart full of items. She was stealing from me. The manager did not immediately believe me that something was wrong as well, and checked MY bags.

I asked the manager what would have happened if I did not realize this before I walked out of the store ... I was told that once it was figured out, they would have opened up an investigation and reached out to any customer who was at the register who purchased a gift card through their credit card company. If it were cash, I would have been out of luck.

I was so angry when I imagined our niece, one of my kid’s teachers, or even worse, someone from the shelter, going to the store, getting excited to buy something, and then having a gift card which didn’t work. Then months later, I would have maybe been notified that something was wrong with the purchase.

I called the police and the store’s corporate headquarters. Pretty much, I was told that this can happen, and that was about it. I told the company that I would share this experience with everyone I possibly could so that it did not happen again. Last year, I emailed my friends after this incident happened to warn them ... this year, since I have a blog, I want to get the word out to as many people as possible so you could hopefully avoid a similar situation. If you are buying gift cards, please avoid holiday shopping scams by doing the following:

  1. Purchase your gift cards separately from the rest of your shopping order so you can easily keep track of the amount of money you are spending.

  2. Check the amount that is on each card on your receipt before leaving the store.

  3. Try to buy gift cards using credit cards wherever possible.

  4. If the store has a gift card reader, do an extra check before you leave the store. Once you walk out ... the process becomes more of a nightmare!

I hope this helps make sure that no one else is affected by a holiday shopping scam like this, and I hope that everyone has a magical holiday season (especially one where you can finish your holiday shopping early!!!).


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