Target, customers being targeted by scammers, say feds

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Consumer alert about gift cards bought at Target
Do you have unused gift cards? There's a new warning out about a scam targeting gift card users and a popular retailer.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Chances are you still have a few unspent gift cards sitting in a drawer somewhere. Here's a warning about gift cards purchased from a popular retailer.

Amy Gac gets her internet service from Comcast. The Palo Alto resident received a call from someone offering her 50% off if she signed up for another two years. The catch? She would be required to pay for the next full year of service upfront.

"I'm told you have to do this by gift card from Target -- that Comcast and Target had made a deal," said Gac.

The caller instructed her to go to a nearby Target store to purchase the cards. He told her if she did it within 100 minutes they would throw in a $100 Visa gift card. She was suspicious, but decided to take the caller up on his offer.

"So I really wanted to take advantage of the deal. And as my friend said I was money-drunk, meaning that I kind of wasn't thinking things through," she said.

She purchased the Target cards and submitted her card ID and access codes as required. She would later learn the scammer immediately drained her cards of their funds.

Last year the Federal Trade Commission warned that Target gift cards had become the favorite for scammers. Target gift cards totaled $35 million in payments to scammers -- two times more than any other brand of gift cards.

"Before the card was even taken out of the wrapping, it was cashed out and spent at a Target store," said Eddie Dehdashti of San Francisco.

He says his family has had trouble with gift cards purchased from Target at least twice. The latest when he purchased a $200 gift card from Target for a friend.

"When they tried to use it, there was nothing in it," said Dehdashti.

The FTC says scammers instruct their victims to purchase gift cards of any kind from Target more than any other retailer.

"We take these crimes very seriously," Target spokesman Brian Harper Tibaldo told 7 On Your Side by email.

"We have signs in our stores and share general safety tips with our team members so they can stay alert and help guests as best as they can."

Target declined to help Gac recover her losses, but did agree to assist Dehdashti with a full refund.

"I think they could let people know there are scams out there," said Gac.

"I think they need to kind of review their gift card and their own card's purchases, refunds, some sort of audit to find out what's going on," said Dehdashti.

7 On Your Side has had numerous complaints about Target gift cards over the holidays and in most cases Target has declined to assist customers get their money back. Bottom line: if someone asks you to pay them with a gift card of any kind, think twice.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

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