KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gift cards are popular presents, especially during Christmas. But they are also a target of thieves.
It happened to Judy Oliveira when she tried to use her $70 gift card at Macy's in Kailua and was told it was empty.
"They said it was compromised," she said.
Oliveira said it was compromised by someone who drained the card through a computer transaction on December 5, days before she tried to use it for the first time.
Macy's did some digging.
"When they tracked it they found out it was actually used for an on-line purchase," Oliveira said.
Somehow someone had gotten the pin number off the back of Judy's card. They knew when it was loaded with money and pulled off the theft.
The Better Business Bureau said gift card scams take different shapes so consumers need to be careful when they buy a card.
"You want to make sure that the packaging is not tampered with because if it is tampered with then something may be amiss with the card itself," said Dwight Kealoha, the bureau's chief executive officer.
He said consumers should make sure the card is kept behind the sales counter where only a clerk can get to it.
"If it's not and you can get to it the scam artists can get to it as well," he said. "They can go ahead and scan the magnetic strip and take the code. And they can use that code for subsequent scams."
We couldn't find an organization that tracks gift card fraud.
But the Retail Merchants Federation said the gift card industry is closing in on $100 billion in sales this year and $25 billion this Christmas - a four percent increase over last year.
Oliveira's still puzzled by what happened. But she thanks Macy's for being understanding and helpful.
"They have been very responsive, from the manager that helped me when I first was in the Kailua Macy's to the manager at Kaneohe Macy's who did help us research and find out what happened," she said.
To learn more about gift card fraud and how to avoid it go to the Federal Trade Commission web site at ftc.gov.