Walmart Gift Cards hacked

SEATTLE - Thieves have found a way to secretly cash out your gift card before you have a chance to go shopping.

The biggest target so far is the nation’s largest retailer: Wal-Mart.

We uncovered the problem after tips from local consumers.

Wal-Mart won’t say much. A spokesman in Arkansas characterizes it as a “small issue in some pockets of the country.”

But police are investigating, and if you use gift cards, you need to know about this.

“You think it’s safe to give someone a gift card!” said Tami Kegley, who contacted us after she and her church group chipped in for a $150 gift card at a Wal-Mart in Bonney Lake. Tami had put the purchase on her credit card.

The shopping card, as Wal-Mart calls it, was a gift for a colleague.

“She loaded up her cart and took it up there and they said there was nothing on the card,” she said.

The same thing happened to Carol Kent and her husband with a $25 card at the Wal-Mart in Puyallup.

Carol: "She said ‘I’m sorry, but there’s a zero balance on this.’ And we’re like, ‘What?!’ She ran it again and she said, ‘No, I’m sorry. It’s already been cashed out.’ "

Carol’s shopping card was purchased in Olympia, and days later, cashed out by a stranger at the Wal-Mart in Chehalis even though Carol still had the card.

“Here’s my receipt,” Carol points to the shopping card notation at the bottom which reads: “Shop card reception 0.00”

In Tami’s case, her receipt shows the $150.00 card was activated at 11:32 in the morning, then cashed out three hours later in a another state!

Just in time for the Xmas shopping season! (Only 4 months to go!)

Not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and no doubt will it be the last. Anyone remember how Best Buy was getting hit very hard a few years back with this sort of thing?

In many ways the fact that the cards themselves don’t have the original amount (ie, “$25 Gift Card”) printed on them only helps things, as someone with the technical know-how only needs to purchase a card with $5 on it and re-write the magnetic strip such that it now corresponds to another account.