My gift card was stolen shortly after buying it
A painful lesson in security risk and financial management
I saw an offer from Store X. It was a valid offer to get a 10% discount on Store X gift cards in value up to $500. The offer came from the Store X app as a push notification. I had taken advantage of this offer for several years with no problems. It just seemed like another good offer.
I went to the store to buy a $500 gift card. I showed the coupon in the Store X app and only paid $450. Cool!
A couple of days later, I went to Store X to buy some items. It was a small dollar amount. I used the self-checkout machine.
I wanted to use the gift card, but I forgot to scratch off the security code from the back of the card. I scratched it off at the machine. (Note: There were security cameras at the top of the machine recording.) I paid the balance due with my gift card, got the receipt, and went home. All was good.
A couple of days later, I went to buy something at the self-checkout machine. The gift card was not working. I asked the staff for help. The person told me the card had a $0 balance. What!? The gift card balance should have been at least $400!
I called Store X customer support. They told me the gift card had a $0 in balance, and they could not list the recent transactions. I started a claim to get the issue resolved. I hope I get my money back.
Why am I sharing this story? It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and I wanted to share the cybersecurity lessons.
- I should not have scratched the security code at the self-checkout machine where video surveillance was happening. Could a malicious security guard have stolen the number?
- I should have considered buying multiple gift cards at a smaller value. If only one gift card had been stolen, I would have risked losing a smaller amount.
- Although the gift card offer was valid, it could have been a scam. I might have fallen victim to buying a fake gift card online to get the 10% discount. Fortunately, I went to the store to redeem the offer, and the cashier would have gotten an error when I tried to redeem the offer.
- Was the self-checkout machine compromised or having technical issues? It is good to check balances often. Only five days had passed since the day I bought the gift card. Had I not used the gift card frequently, I might have missed the window to take action.
As we move to more digital payments, we should take the time to inspect our balances and statements for abnormal activity. Cybercrime is rising, and we need to be cautious about “good deals” so we do not become victims of phishing scams.
Update: about one week later
Store X processed my claim and issued me a new gift card for the balance that was lost. I am relieved that it worked out. I do want to use the balance as quickly as possible though.
Before you go
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