Southern Utah man’s $300 Walmart gift card turns up empty; tips to avoid gift card fraud

Stock image | Photo by Ivan-balvan/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — If your newly gifted or purchased Walmart gift card showed a zero balance this holiday season, you might not be the only one.

Ben Coulter was preparing to purchase Christmas gifts last week when a Walmart associate said his gift card had a zero balance on it. The $300 Walmart gift card was gifted to him in November and he spent only about $90 on small household items, such as groceries, Coulter told St. George News,

When he got home, he went online to try to find where the near $210 left on his gift card went. Customers are able to track transactions on Walmart’s website by typing in the gift card’s number and PIN. When Coulter was scanning through the transactions, he noticed an online purchase that he didn’t make.

“I didn’t worry too much about it because I just assumed Walmart would hook me up with the $209.45, and I would be taken care of,” he said.

After calling a Walmart corporate number, he was told that it was a man in Las Vegas who made the purchase. He had bought projectors and big-screen TVs, and had different gift card numbers other than Coulter’s. After Walmart acknowledged the issue, Coulter said they still couldn’t do anything to refund the money.

According to Walmart’s gift card terms and conditions, a lost or stolen gift card can’t be replaced, even if it’s used by a third party through your Walmart account.

Messages left for Walmart were not immediately returned.

Coulter said he made multiple calls to the Bloomington Walmart store, since that’s where the gift card was purchased. He said the store ended up connecting him to a district loss prevention supervisor, who told him people kept going into the Bloomington store and using some kind of electronic scanner to scan gift cards. When a consumer would purchase one of those gift cards, whoever was scanning them could see the cards were loaded with money and ready to use.

Southern Utah Walmart customers aren’t the only ones to possibly fall victim to this gift card scheme. A class-action lawsuit was filed against Walmart in August for the same issue that happened in Missouri, according to a report from USA Today.

The lawsuit described the scheme as people removing the security tape off of gift cards, photographing the PIN number and then replacing the tape with a similar looking product. When the cards were purchased, they would be able to activate them and make purchases on Walmart’s website.

Here are some tips from Consumer Reports on how to protect yourself from gift card fraud:

  • Buy gift cards online because people don’t have easy access to those cards.
  • Don’t buy in-store racked cards with easily accessible numbers and PINs. Look for gift cards behind the counter or in well-sealed packaging.
  • If it’s possible, change the security code when you buy the card.
  • Secure your home computer through security updates. People can also gain access to your gift card number and PIN by hacking your computer.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.



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  • Shorm December 27, 2018 at 11:10 am

    This makes me worry that the gifts cards I purchased for teachers, from the Bloomington Walmart, will have been “stolen”. Now I’ll be aware to not purchase them from Walmart next year and to find an establishment with better policies for their gift cards.

    • Comment December 27, 2018 at 1:46 pm

      Sounds like you should be worried.

      The lengths that thieves will go to these days is actually amazing….

  • KR567 December 27, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    someone actually purchased a gift card from Wal-Mart ….ha ha ha ha…after what happened before in the past .. ha ha ha

  • iceplant December 27, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Yet another reason to avoid shopping in that hole.

  • mesaman December 27, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    This should carry an important message; DO NOT PURCHASE GIFT CARDS FOR YOURSELF, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY. They represent a dangerous risk and just aren’t worth it. Safer to give money!!

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