Channel 2 Investigation: Sealed gift cards with no balance continue to pop up across metro

ATLANTA — The gift cards looked untouched, and the packaging was never tampered with, but the cards were already empty when Lisa Austin went to use them.

“They looked perfect. Totally sealed,” Austin told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray.

The Nordstrom Rack gift cards were a present from Austin’s autistic son for Mother’s Day and her birthday.

“He has very little. And he wanted to do something nice for his mother,” she said.

In a Channel 2 Action News Investigation last fall we told you how this has been happening with gift cards where the envelopes or packaging have never been opened.

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“It’s a sealed envelope. Boom. Zero-dollar balance,” David Rechel said.

“Are they going to tell me, hey, you gave me a bogus gift card? No, they’re not. So, I’m embarrassed,” Todd Edlin said.

The Retail Gift Card Association, the group that represents gift card manufacturers, says the industry is taking steps to address more sophisticated fraud, including randomizing pin codes, and using technology that flags suspicious activity before, during, and after activation and redemption.

Nordstrom told Austin that it would not issue a refund.

“It was a Chanel item shipped overseas. I am old and I’ve never owned Chanel in my life. But we helped someone else on,” Austin said.


Channel 2 Action News reached out to Blackhawk, the company that issues and services Nordstrom gift cards.

Blackhawk said they would contact Austin to return her money.

The RGCA suggests you save receipts when you purchase gift cards as proof of purchase in case anything goes wrong with a malfunction or fraud on your card.

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