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Some brand new gift cards wiped out of money before they’re used, Cleveland BBB warns

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Imagine if you went to use your brand-new gift card and found out all of the money was gone before you even opened the package.

That happened to one local man and it could be happening more than you think.

George Kaiser didn’t get around to using his holiday gift cards right away.

“I didn’t do anything with it for a few months, it just sat there sealed up,” Kaiser said.

Recently, he went to use his Vanilla Visa gift card for the first time.

He activated it online and got a surprise.

“Once I authorized the card, it immediately went from a $50 balance to $0 and the money was gone,” Kaiser said.

He showed us the receipt of transactions online.

Kaiser called the company and he said they told him he had to wait 90 days before they could help him.

“That’s the worst thing, you just want an answer and you can’t get it. And you’re kind of left hopeless,” he said.

Vanilla Visa is owned by InComm Payments, based out of Atlanta.
Vanilla Visa is owned by InComm Payments, based out of Atlanta.(WOIO)

19 Investigates found Vanilla Visa is owned by InComm Payments, based out of Atlanta.

You can find their gift cards on display at major retail stores.

We discovered more than 600 consumers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau about Vanilla Visa gift cards.

Many people have similar stories.

We checked with the Cleveland BBB and found they’ve only had three complaints about the company since 2021.

We also learned hackers could be to blame.

The BBB said they’re accessing cards and when consumers go to use them, the money is gone.

We gave InComm Payments a call and heard back from someone representing the company.

He told us they would investigate Kaiser’s complaint.

And they did. Kaiser said he was told it could still take up to 90 days to resolve his claim.

He’s happy he finally got the callback but disappointed it took a call from 19 Investigates to make it happen.

For Kaiser, the money has been worth fighting for.

“It’s not a great deal of money, but $50 will get you maybe half a tank of gas today,” he said laughing.

He told us he’s speaking out because he wants to warn other people about what happened.

“There’s so many people out there trying to take advantage of people, that you just have to be very vigilant in what you do,” Kaiser said.

In a survey by the AARP, more than one in five people said they had given or received a gift card that wound up having no money on it.

You can buy a digital gift card online instead of a physical gift card if you’re worried about this happening to you.

You can report possible gift card scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office here.

Statement from an InComm Payments spokesperson:

“InComm Payments take concerns from our cardholders seriously, and we have protocols in place to work with consumers and merchants to investigate issues. While we can’t comment on this particular case as it is under review, we are in contact with the cardholder to resolve the matter.

Consumers that have concerns about their card should call the phone number listed on the back of their card. InComm Payments has dedicated customer service lines available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide support.”

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