‘Totally sealed;’ Unopened gift cards with no balance becoming more common problem


A woman tried to use gift cards she thought were unused, but she learned they were already empty.

As reported on News Center 7 at 5:30 p.m., a woman reached out to our sister station in Atlanta after she realized her gift cards had been used before she even opened them.

Lisa Austin, of Gwinnett County, had picked out what she wanted to buy online at Nordstrom Rack, but when she went to pay, her gift cards were both drained.

“I put in the first one and it kept saying already activated or used,” Austin said. “Both cards were used on the 28th online, with several other gift cards for a Chanel item that was shipped immediately out of the country.”

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Her autistic son bought the cards for her for Mother’s Day and her birthday.

“To me, they robbed from him and he made the nice thing that he was happy about and doing ugly,” Austin said.

There was no physical sign of anyone tampering with the cards, the money was just gone.

“They looked perfect. Totally sealed,” Austin said.

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Other gift card users had similar issues, gift cards drained without envelopes or packaging ever being opened.

“It’s a sealed envelope. boom zero dollar balance. What?” David Rechel said.

“Are they going to tell me, hey, you gave me a bogus gift card? No, they’re not. So, I’m embarrassed,” Todd Edlin said.

The Industry group that represents Gift Card manufacturers, the Retail Gift Card Association says the industry is taking steps to address more sophisticated fraud.

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Those steps include randomizing pin codes, and using technology that flags suspicious activity before, during, and after activation and redemption.

They are also only using supply chain partners that employ strict security protocols.

Nordstrom told Austin it would not issue a refund.

“It was a Chanel item shipped overseas. I am old and I’ve never owned Chanel in my life, so. But we helped someone else on Chanel,” Austin said.



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