Reporting Sandra Mitchell
ENCINO (CBSLA.com) — Quite a few Macy’s gift card recipients have been shocked to discover zero balances on their cards when they tried to cash them in.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Sandra Mitchell spoke with several people who were targeted by crooks and asked Macy’s how consumers can protect their gift cards from fraud.
Encino resident Melissa Malone said she was shocked when she went to cash in the Macy’s gift card her sister gave her.
“It was $100 and the clerk just said, ‘I’m sorry, there’s no money on this card,’ and I was just shocked, because I had been saving it special to buy something,” Malone said. “I said, ‘That’s impossible,’ because I had not even used it, it had not even left the little sleeve thing that it comes in, and the number wasn’t scratched off or anything.”
Malone called Macy’s customer service at the Northridge Fashion Mall, where she had been shopping that day.
“They said, ‘Oh yeah, it’s been used online and it got shipped…so, it wasn’t me, It wasn’t my husband, it wasn’t anyone in my family,” Malone said.
CBS2/KCAL9 has received emails from Macy’s gift card recipients from all over the country complaining about gift cards with zero balances. In some cases, customers have noticed the activation code on the back of the card had already been scratched off.
Ed Souza from the Bay area said he recently tried to use the Macy’s gift card his mother purchased for him at a grocery store a year ago.
“She said, ‘There’s zero balance on this card.’ I said, ‘That can’t be, I haven’t used it yet,’” said Souza, who added that a Macy’s customer service representative said one of his cards was used online. He insisted he never shops online.
Souza noticed the activation code on the back of the card was already exposed, but not scratched out, when he recently opened the gift card packaging. Macy’s confirms it did have a problem several years ago with tampered gift cards purchased at third party retailers. They said Souza’s gift card could be from that batch.
That rash of theft still doesn’t explain the zero balance on Malone’s card, which was purchased at a Macy’s store.
“I have bought gift cards at the grocery store, but I haven’t heard of any problems with them,” Malone said.
Macy’s said, “As with other types of cards, gift cards are not immune to exposure to fraud and theft. The gift card owner should monitor the balance of the card regularly to ensure its value. If an owner would suspect a problem, immediately call the phone number on the card to report any concerns.”
“I gave a few this year, so I still trust them, but maybe, if it happened to me again, I’d think twice about using them again,” Malone said.
Macy’s did issue Malone a new $100 gift card a few months after her complaint.
The company would not disclose how many gift card complaints they’ve received this holiday season and could not share how gift card fraud is committed because they said they don’t want to help other crooks commit fraud.
Customers should follow these tips when purchasing or redeeming any type of gift card:
- Make sure the activation code is not exposed.
- Save or give the receipt that goes with the card.
- Call the number on the back of the card to verify the amount before going shopping.