Suzi Moore of Steilacoom thought she had $100 on that new Albertsons card.
At the checkout stand she discovered the card had been drained of all but 88 cents.
Similar to a gift card, the scrip card is used as a fundraising tool. Moore purchased hers to benefit Tacoma’s St. Patrick Catholic School, where her daughter attends seventh grade.
“At that point I paid for the balance with my debit card,” Moore said, recalling her moment at the checkstand. “I went home and called the (Albertsons customer service) number.”
“We basically get these once a month,” she said. “We buy several hundred dollars in cards. I had purchased it several weeks ago. I know that no one had used the card.”
But someone had used the card, likely electronically.
Moore had disregarded a problem with a previous card which was missing a fraction of its total value. At the time, she told herself that she had perhaps previously used it at Albertsons and forgotten the transaction.
“I went back to that other card, and it also had multiple charges from out-of-state. I had two cards that had been compromised,” she said.
She emphasized on Monday that her account had been made whole once she reported the problem to the scrip coordinator at the school. “The school was fantastic. They refunded our money right away.”
She wonders, “Is this something people should be made aware of?”
Dennis McCoy, Albertsons spokesman, replied to questions concerning the problem.
“Albertsons has investigated fraudulent activity concerning a small percentage of gift cards sold through the scrip program,” he said in a statement Monday.
“ We have taken the necessary steps to prevent this from recurring and have also provided the information we collected to the local authorities. In all reported cases, our internal investigation has shown where fraudulent activity occurred and we replaced the compromised card with a new one of equal value. Any customers who are concerned about the available balance on their Albertsons gift card should contact Albertsons Customer Interaction Center at 877-932-7948 or speak to their scrip coordinator.”
Deb Bortner, director of consumer services at the state Department of Financial Institutions, said her agency does not, by statute, have purview over such stored-value, single-use, “closed-loop” cards.
Kevin Lovejoy, parish and school coordinator at Saint Patrick School, said Monday that Moore’s dilemma was the first he’d heard of a problem with the fundraising scrip.
Along with Albertsons, Lovejoy said the school program offers cards from some 50 other vendors, local and national, including Target, Starbucks and McDonald’s.
“This is the first one that has been brought to our attention,” he said. “We are working with Albertsons to find out what the problem might be. We hope this does not discourage folks from participating in the program.”
It has not discouraged Suzi Moore and her family.
She said Monday, coincidentally St. Patrick’s Day, that she will remain true to the school.