HAMPTON, Va. - A Hampton woman received a $200 Vanilla Visa gift card from her deployed husband to use for gas and other necessities, but when she received it, the gift card had already been activated.
Cheyenne Reynolds said her husband purchased the gift card from Walmart.com and had it mailed to her a few days before Christmas. She then tried to use the gift card at a store, where it was declined.
"It was actually really embarrassing because I bet they thought I didn’t have the money, but it just wasn’t working," Reynolds said. "I had to take the money out of our savings account and I will have to put the money back into it to replace it."
She said she called Walmart, where a customer service representative told her the card was already activated. She waited a little while, tried to use it, then called back again. The second time, a representative told her the card number didn't exist.
Reynolds said that's when she knew she had been scammed.
“It’s very unfortunate that they took money from somebody who was just trying to buy Christmas gifts and get gas to get from point A to point B. It’s just not fair,” Reynolds said.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has tips for safely buying and using gift cards. They include:
- Stick to stores you know and trust. Avoid buying from online auction sites because the cards may be fake or stolen.
- Check it out before you buy it. Make sure the protective stickers are on the card and that they do not appear to have been tampered with. Also check that the PIN number on the back isn’t showing. Get a different card if you spot a problem.
- Keep your receipt. This, or the card’s ID number, will help you file a report if you lose the gift card.
If you have received a gift card that has already been activated, report it to your local police department. You can also report it to the FTC.