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Target Slammed by Shoppers for Allegedly Selling "Fake" Gift Cards

Some customers claim the retailer knowingly allows this gift card scheme to happen.

Target knows how to get shoppers to spend money. From different store layout "tricks" to unique beauty offerings, the retail chain often sees customers leaving after having bought much more than originally intended. But while you can expect consistent quality from most Target purchases, shoppers are now claiming some of the store's gift cards are fake—and that Target is knowingly letting this scheme happen. Read on to find more about a class-action lawsuit against the mega-retailer.

READ THIS NEXT: Target Is Closing Multiple Locations, Starting May 13.

Consumers have been warned about gift card scams.

A closeup of a hand removing a gift card from a wallet

Buying gift cards is an easy way to treat your loved ones—as long as those cards actually have money on them.

Some shoppers have recently fallen victim to procuring gift cards with an empty balance. As WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explained to NBC Los Angeles, this happens when scammers break into gift card packaging at a retail store and steal the card numbers. They may repackage them in different ways—by putting the original card back in, replacing it with a fake, or even covering up the real barcode with stickers featuring custom codes that are fraudulent.

According to Gonzalez, scammers typically have special software they can plug gift card numbers into that will alert them when the card is purchased and activated.

"Once they know something's activated, they can then use it at their own leisure. And they'll probably use it right away before someone else can," she told NBC Los Angeles.

Target is facing a lawsuit over this ongoing problem.

target retail store
Sean Wandzilak / Shutterstock

Target has found itself at the center of complaints over this gift card scheme. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the popular retailer by consumers in 21 states, Fox 5 DC reported. The suit—which was filed in Minnesota where Target is headquartered—includes claims from those who say they purchased Apple gift cards that had been tampered with at various Target stores across the U.S.

Customer Matias Giraud told Fox 5 DC that he bought eight $100 gift cards in order to get an iPhone, only to find out that two of the cards were fake.

"It was terrible. You know like, first of all walking back in to Target and being like 'Hi, these are fake,'" Giraud said. "And you feel like a scammer yourself, you know. It's not good. Because you're like, 'Hi I'm not trying to scam anybody but this gift card is not working.'"

Best Life reached out to Target about the claims in the lawsuit, and will update this story with their response.

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Consumers claim Target is knowingly selling fake gift cards.

Target store gift certificate aisle with various cards.

This gift card scam could impact any retailer, of course. But Target is being hit with this class-action lawsuit because consumers allege that the retail chain is knowingly selling Apple gift cards that could be fake.

"The problem with the Gift Cards is rampant and widespread and Target is well-aware of the problem, yet Target continues to sell insecure Gift Cards," the suit states, per Top Class Actions.

According to the plaintiffs, Target has failed to implement any security to prevent this scam at its stores and therefore has violated various state consumer protection laws.

"Consumers have lost millions of dollars that they loaded onto the Gift Cards because Target failed to take adequate and reasonable measures to ensure that scammers did not tamper with the Gift Cards and failed to disclose to its customers the material fact that it was possible that the Gift Cards had been tampered with," the lawsuit states.

Target says shoppers shouldn't buy a card if its packaging appears tampered with.

Apple App Store and iTunes gift cards on store shelf. A gift card is a prepaid card issued by a retailer to be used for purchases within a particular store.

Target has a security page on its website dedicated solely to "Gift Card Fraud Prevention." While the retailer delves into many of the different ways scammers could steal your card's balance, it only references the specific tampering scam once.

"Do not purchase a gift card if it appears that the packaging has been altered or manipulated," Target states on its website. "If you have questions about a gift card, ask someone who works at the store."

But as some shoppers have noted, it's not always clear that gift cards have been compromised. "The sleeves were sealed with no issues. No tampering was visible," one Reddit user explained in a Dec. 2022 post they made about buying fake Apple gift cards at Target.

According to the user, the issue was only apparent after the gift cards were purchased and opened. "Once you take the seal off the fake gift cards, they will not open easily. The flap was glued together," they wrote.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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