Valley grandparents warning of drained gift debit cards

A Valley couple is sounding the alarm after the Visa debit gift cards they'd purchased for their grandkids were drained of their value.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 10:23 PM CDT
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VALLEY, Neb. (WOWT) - After giving two grandkids Visa debit cards, Randy and Deb Lackas didn’t expect their grandson would be left empty-handed when shopping.

“He said, ‘Grandma, I went to use my gift card at Walmart, and they said there’s no money on it,” Deb said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re sorry,’ and we started the investigation.”

The couple returned to the store where the cards were purchased and asked a clerk what happened.

“You must’ve gotten one of the hacked cards, and we had to pull them off the shelf,” Randy was told.

The Better Business Bureau has similar reports from other retailers.

“No matter where gift cards are displayed in a store, thieves are known to remove cards from the rack, tamper with the information, record the numbers associated with those cards, including the activation PIN, and put the card back into the packaging.”

Though out $150, the couple pursued a refund for lost money -- and grandkids’ bruised pride.

“It’s embarrassing to stand there with people behind you and you have a card that won’t work,” Randy said. “It looks bad.”

Their complaint went to gift disputes at, with several phone calls along the way.

“It’s usually a half hour to 45 minutes before a person comes on here,” Deb said.

6 On Your Side helps the couple get their money’s worth. After contacting the third-party vendor investigating the hack, the couple received in the mail a cash gift card -- this one fully loaded to make up for the money they lost to the hackers.

“We weren’t getting anything done until you got involved,” Randy said.

After money is added to gift cards, it can be stolen by hackers. The Lackases say that’s a valuable warning.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips to keep consumers from buying hacked gift cards. Buy digital cards if possible -- they offer enhanced protections. When pulling a gift card off the rack, examine the packaging to see if it’s been tampered with before you load value onto it.

Also, don’t hold onto gift cards too long, or you give hackers with a stolen PIN number more time to withdraw the cash.