Alabama woman warns of gift card barcode scam

Updated: Jun. 28, 2019 at 6:44 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - An Alabama woman is alerting others to a gift card scam.

In a message posted on Facebook, Kandi Tucker said she was given a Visa gift card that was purchased from the CVS Pharmacy location off Zelda Road in Montgomery.

When she tried to activate the card to use the money, the card registered a zero balance. Tucker says when she alerted management at CVS she was told it’s a scam they’ve been monitoring.

According to Tucker, she was told people come into the store and slip a fake barcode onto the gift card, covering the real barcode. When the card is activated, the money goes to the scammer’s card instead of the one being purchased.

Under Tucker’s post, several commented about having had similar experiences.

According to the Better Business Bureau, it’s a scam that has evolved.

Garet Smitherman, vice president of operations for the BBB serving Central and South Alabama, says the office was first alerted to scams involving people copying barcode numbers off gift cards and using the numbers to access money on the card. They’d make purchases using the gift card before the original buyer could make any purchases.

The new barcode scam is something Smitherman believes operators at his office may have received calls about. He also says it’s something they’re monitoring, but because it’s not a business operation, they can’t accept complaints.

A tip to keep you from becoming a victim: Closely check the back of your gift card before you buy it. Make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and no labels have been added.

Smitherman also suggests not picking the first gift card you see on the rack.

“As opposed to purchasing the gift card that’s on the very front of the rack, remove almost all the front portion of the cards and take one from the back,” said Smitherman. “It would be a lot more obvious if an individual placed 20 false barcodes on the back of a gift card.”

Crooks will likely go for the front cards because they can commit the crime more quickly.

WSFA 12 News reached out to Montgomery police and the State Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office. Both said they have not received a complaint, but MPD encourages anyone who feels they are a victim of a crime to contact their local police department to file a report.

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