Are There Fraud Issues With Kroger Visa Gift Cards? A Reader’s Story

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Are There Kroger Visa Gift Card Fraud Issues? A Reader’s Story

I had reader reach out this past weekend to alert me to an issue at his Kroger store.  It sounded somewhat similar to the issue that has been happening at Safeway.  This happened at a Houston area store. I thought it was important to share with you so you guys are aware and because of Kroger’s response to the issue.

Purchasing the Cards

Here are the details of reader Joe’s story:

He purchased 6 $100 gift cards because of the 4X fuel promo at Kroger.  They were purchased from a Houston, Texas Kroger location.  He says that when he purchased them all of the packages appeared to be in order.

When he got home he tried to use the cards and they were all declined.  He even tried to register them online but that did not work either.

Returning to Kroger

Two days after making the purchase Joe returned to the Kroger to talk with them about the drained cards.  He had purchased a US Vanilla card, a standard US Bank card, and a Metabank card.  When he got in front of a manager the store manager said they were aware of the fraud issue.  They had received a memo from corporate warning them of the issue.  One of the store employees preceded to go to the gift card rack and found several more tampered cards.  They could tell they were tampered with by feeling along the back of the card sleeves.

Joe was informed by the store manager and the financial person that it is Kroger’s policy to not accept blame.  And even though they didn’t agree with it they were not able to give Joe a refund.

Joe’s Response

Joe decided to file a charge back with the credit card company (Chase).  I had told him it may be worth reaching out to the Visa gift card issuer since they will often replace them.  That was before I knew that they were from multiple companies and he didn’t want to deal with the hassle.

He has not heard back from Chase yet but I think he will most likely win the case and get the money refunded.

Conclusion

I don’t think any stores are safe at this point from gift card fraud. As I have said in previous articles I would open the card packages at the store so you can address it right then.  I would also advise you to use the cards as soon as possible.  I believe this looks more and more like there is an issue at the gift card provider’s location.  Whatever company stocks the gift card racks has someone tampering with the cards.  That would be my guess at least.

26 COMMENTS

  1. The OP, “Joe decided to file a charge back with the credit card company (Chase). I had told him it may be worth reaching out to the Visa gift card issuer since they will often replace them. That was before I knew that they were from multiple companies and he didn’t want to deal with the hassle.”

    Didn’t want to deal with the hassle? So maybe he will eat $500 because of a “hassle”? JFC. Sounds like a privileged git to me.

    • Carl, the guy reaches out to share his story to help out others with the situation and this is how you respond? Come on man – uncalled for.

      • Well, I apologize if you think that uncalled for. But as soon as I read the story I was thinking how I would be going completely bats and calling everyplace I could to, to try to recover my dough. Giving up on calling because it is a hassle seems crazy to me. I simply cannot imagine not doing absolutely everything I could to get bac k from that.

        But your board, your rules and I will try to restrain my impulses more here.

        • I think he simply thought contacting the credit card company would be easiest since they were from different companies. I bet that if the chargeback doesn’t go in his favor he will go another route etc.

          • agreed with Mark! there’re always few folks who are critical & judgmental than necessary; anyhow, if i were OP, also send a brief notice to the GC issuer via CFPB in case took Chase or CC much longer for a resolve

            when my $500 vgc bought at randall’s was fraudulently drained last yr, a replacement took less than 2 wks after i sent a written request/notice to BHN via CFPB; felt that a filing via CFPB likely helped speed up a resolution

  2. The same thing happened to me in DFW last week. Between 2 different stores, I purchased 5 tampered $100 visa gift cards. We found several more on the rack after going back to the stores and sounding the alarm bell. The fraudsters were quite advanced.

    They printed the bar code of the US Bank card on photo stock and replaced the physical card with a dummy card (spread between Vanillas which are sold at CVS & Metabanks which are sold at Staples). They glued the cards back into the packaging. Smells like an inside job to me.

    Going forward, I’m physically running my hand over the barcode to make sure I can feel the physical indentations. The photo stock was obviously smooth.

    • Yup that is what happened here too Ed – I am writing a follow up tomorrow on it. Very tricky set up in deed.

    • Wow that sounds like next level stuff, they used to just grind off the numbers under the barcode, now printing fake barcodes wow.
      BHN has had so many issues, I wonder how they didn’t get tons of lawsuits. Last year a lot of staples gift cards bought through MPX were disabled, staples told me to call BHN, BHN said to contact MPX, MPX said they are not at fault.

  3. I do the $500 variable cards at Kroger with no problems so far in Tennessee. I did make a stupid mistake a few months ago where I turned the paper with the PIN upside down and couldn’t use it, so I trudged off to Kroger where they said no exchanges or refunds on gift cards. I realized my mistake immediately afterward and used the card, but learning about the policy troubled me.

  4. I’m on the East Coast and haven’t run into any issues, nor have there been reports of problems here. I agree with Max that the problem is further up the chain than individual stores.
    It should be relatively easy to catch the perp, given the prevalence of cameras and time stamped transactions. If I had one of these already drained cards, I might check the transactions (don’t need to register to do that) as a place to start.

    • You would think there would be a bigger push for them to track it down. It has to be costing the company tens of thousands of dollars.

    • Bad news: your reader won’t be able to dispute the transaction with his credit card company. Kroger loaded the money, so they are not at fault. Been there, done that.
      The issuer of GC is the one to go after. Stay away from Blackhawk Network GCs, especially at Safeway! Many are compromised.

      • I’d expect BHN to do a recall just like any other manufacturers, they’re acting like let’s just wait for people to report this and lose even more money.

  5. Confirmed several Vons (Safeway-affiliated) had compromised MCGC in Southern California (Los Angeles) – buyer beware. BHN did eventually refunded me.

    • BHN is the best in my experience. Kroger VGC’s on the other hand, are issued by US bank I believe. I am a victim of a VGC fraud from kroger that occurred last week, although it is too early to speak, their process doesn’t give me hopes that I will get a replacement card.

      • Kroger’s response in all of this is pretty poor and makes me consider whether or not I want to purchase them from there in the future.

        • Safeway/Albertsons (even WM) all have the same corporate policy (ask me how I know). You might find a sympathetic manager who doesn’t know their policies, but I’ve found I have to file claims with BHN or whoever issues the cards the majority of the time.

  6. First it’s Safeway, now Kroger, I’m leaning towards believing the vgc distributors have moles inside them, in the west coast region. So far haven’t gotten any issue on the east side.

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