Be careful buying Visa gift cards during the holiday season.

Vanilla not so sweet

We celebrated my daughter’s birthday the other night with a nice dinner, some cupcakes and some presents for her. One of the gifts my wife bought her was a $100 bill. Visa gift cardthe one they call Vanilla.

After opening the card my daughter went online to register the gift card, as soon as she did the balance on the card was literally a penny, a penny! What happened to the other $99 and 99 cents?

stolen credit

We called customer service and were told that the online purchase had just been made for $99.99 by someone in Texas named Jason. This was news to us as she had just taken the card out of the envelope it had come in. The customer service person was not encouraging, saying we had to file a fraud complaint which could take up to six weeks to resolve!

So much for customer service!

You can imagine our frustration with the process of being told that they should investigate the incident with no guarantee that we’ll see any money even though it was clearly a case where it was hacked at the second she had registered her gift card.

We did our own investigation

My wife googled Visa gift card fraud and was amazed at how many times it happens to unexpected customers or gift card recipients. Apparently this happens all the time and Visa is well aware of it. Many people report losing between $500 and $1,000 in exactly the same way as our daughter. Online scammers sit and wait for someone to register the card because they have a list of numbers and the PIN ready to go, before you know it your money is gone and good luck getting it back .

Watch this before you buy!

We’ll have to wait and see what happens with our fraud case, but you should look into this before purchasing a gift card.

Michael N. Clark