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MAULDIN, S.C. -- Regional retailer Bi-Lo/Bruno's here said it is training associates to recognize signs of gift card fraud--even though it said such fraud has never hit its stores in the three years it has offered gift cards.
The retailer issued a statement yesterday about fraud precautions in response to gift card scams that have been widely circulated through Internet blogs, and is using its own Web site to spread the word.
"We have posted the release on our Web site, but have not put signs in our stores," Joyce M. Smart, director of corporate communications, told Progressive Grocer. "Because we have had no gift card fraud cases reported from our sales, we thought it was more positive to train our employees, than to alarm our customers."
Like other supermarket chains, Bi-Lo and Bruno's stores sell gift cards from a number of different merchants.
In the press release, the retailer said one of the first signs of possible tampering on a gift card is when the protective covering over the PIN number has been visibly damaged. Consumers should inspect the card for signs of tampering before making a purchase.
As another safeguard, some gift card issuers have taken steps to protect customers by not allowing more than one call on a card that has not been activated, the company said. If more than one call is made, that particular card number is deleted for potential activation. At Bi-Lo/Bruno's, point of sale registers will not allow the card to activate once the number has been deleted by the issuer.
Some card issuers offer the ability to register a gift card on their Web site after it is purchased. This enables customers to check the card's balance and activity to quickly detect improper use. Most cards also provide a balance inquiry number for convenience on the back of the cards. Customers should retain their register receipt as proof of purchase, the company said.
Bi-Lo/Bruno's cashiers are told to inspect all gift cards for possible tampering prior to scanning for activation. If the card is damaged or the PIN is compromised, the cashier will help the customer to select another card for purchase.
Bi-Lo/Bruno's operates more than 300 supermarkets in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida.