RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- When you buy or give a gift card, you want to make sure you or the person you're giving it to can use it. Some gift card holders, reached out to ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson after they said their gift card balances were drained and not by them.
Raleigh resident Dan Baker coaches tennis, and as a thank you, his team gave him two Vanilla Visa gift cards.
"I used part of the first card and everything seemed to go very well. Then when I went to use the card again, it was zeroed out and the second card I checked also and it was zeroed out as well," Baker adds. He says it was about $ 140 on the Vanilla Visa gift cards gone.
David West had the same problem. He adds, "I never used it. It's been in my possession since the day I purchased it and I keep it in a protected money clip." West bought the Vanilla Visa gift card himself as he was traveling and wanted to use it on the trip. When he tried to use the $300.00 gift card, "She said there had been several transactions against the card," West said.
Both West and Baker followed the steps on the back of the card and said they spent countless hours filing complaints by calling and submitting paperwork online. Baker adds, "No response to the emails. Every time it was we don't have a copy of the forms." Baker even sent his complaint in certified mail, with verification the company received it. He adds, "At that point, there was not really much else I could do."
There are more than thirteen hundred complaints in the last twelve months filed with the Better Business Bureau against the parent company of Vanilla Visa prepaid cards, InComm Payments, the majority of the complaints also claim issues with the gift cards being drained before the consumer had a chance to use them.
West says, "Well, there shouldn't be any frustration using a Visa card. They should stand behind it and they don't seem to be taking any ownership into this at all."
ABC11 Troubleshooter reached out to the company on West and Baker's behalf.
InComm Payments and the company provided this statement: "InComm Payments takes concerns from cardholders very seriously, and we regret the frustration that Mr. Baker and Mr. West have experienced. Our privacy and policy restrictions prevent us from commenting on individual consumer situations, but we are reviewing their information and will contact each of them to provide an update.
Fraud prevention is a top priority across our company. We are constantly working to ensure consumers can safely use their gift cards by developing new methods and techniques that mitigate the risk of potential fraud. If a customer reports an issue, we inform them of the information needed to conduct an investigation and the timeline required to complete it. We review every complaint on a case-by-case basis to devise an appropriate solution.
We do not disclose the tactics that fraudsters use in order to prevent copycat behavior. However, we can share that our dedicated fraud teams are constantly monitoring for new and emerging threats. We also review cases and consult with our merchant partners to fine-tune fraud prevention strategies.
If consumers have concerns about how to protect their gift cards, there are steps they can take to maintain vigilance against fraudulent activity, including:
- Inspect a gift card's packaging prior to purchase for signs of tampering, such as slits along the seams, glue residue or color distortion.
- Regularly monitor transactions by reviewing the account balance on their product's official website, which is printed on the back of their card.
- Calling the customer care phone number on the back of their card immediately to report an issue.
To find out more information about their card, consumers should visit their product's official website by typing in the URL as it is printed on the back of the card. To call customer support, they should only use the phone number that is printed on the back of the card."
The good news for West and Baker, after ABC11's involvement, both men heard from Vanilla Visa and said the company claims they are mailing them replacement gift cards with the amount of money they lost.
Baker said to Wilson, "This never would have been resolved without your intervention."
To protect yourself from buying a gift card that is already drained, don't grab the front ones of the rack, get from the back and take a close look at the card to see if it's been tampered with.
When checking out, watch to make sure the card is not switched, and get a receipt to show the card is activated.