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Woman receives questionable gift card offer

March 6, 2014 • Local News

A Roswell woman whose credit card information was stolen in the Target security breach in December received a “too good to be true” offer in the mail last week.

Gene Reames, 84, received a postcard stating that if she called a phone number, she would receive a $100 gift card, good at Walmart or Target.

When she called the phone number, she was told for a $1 charge on her credit card, she would receive the $100 gift card good at either retailer and a $25 gift card good for various unspecified restaurants.

“What they are out for is that credit card information,” said Sandra Titus, Reames’ daughter. “All this started after she used her credit card at Target back before Christmas.”

Target disclosed on Dec. 19 that a data breach compromised 40 million credit and debit card accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Then, on Jan. 10, it said hackers also stole personal information — including names, phone numbers, and email and mailing addresses — from as many as 70 million customers.

The nation’s second largest discounter told The Associated Press that Beth Jacob, who has overseen everything from Target’s web site to its internal computer systems as chief information officer since 2008, has resigned. The company said it will search for an interim CIO. The departure, which was effective on Wednesday, comes as Target works to overhaul some of its divisions that handle security and technology following the massive data breach.

Target spokesman Antoine LaFromboise said customers should be wary of giving personal and financial information away over the phone or online.

“As always, we encourage guests to be careful with offers from unknown sources. Target is working to mitigate phishing efforts in several ways,” LaFromboise said.

“For example, we have posted copies of our email communication to Target.com/DataBreach. Guests are able to compare any emails they have received to official copies of the emails that Target has distributed. Additionally, Target has posted various tips to avoid phishing scams.”

The Roswell Daily Record also called the 800-number and was referred to a website, funvantage.com. The webpage had no pages linked and offered no specific information about what companies it offers discounts with, but a Better Business Bureau link connected FunVantage to a Florida company called Ocenture LLC.

“Unfortunately, we do have people who take advantage of our good name to perpetrate these types of scams,” said Walmart Media Relations Specialist Betsy Harden.

According to a Linkedin.com profile, FunVantage is an entertainment and shopping benefits program with unlimited use savings of up to 50 percent at 300,000 locations throughout the U.S., including movie tickets, rentals, dining, retail, sports, and much more.

A representative for FunVantage said the company provided a discount program whereby members submit receipts after shopping with select retailers and receive a discount card in return, but membership is required. On the website, there seems to be no way to join without receiving a code in advance.

“We have numerous telemarketing companies selling our product,” the representative said.

Calls to FunVantage parent company Ocenture LLC have not been returned.

Titus said her mother has continued to receive offers in the mail and on the phone.

“The other day, one of them called up and said, ‘I saw where you signed up on our website…’” Titus said. “My mother doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, much less sign up for something on a website.”

Sabrina Morales, public information liaison for the Roswell Police Department, said the police department gets numerous complaints about various scams, and she warns residents to use common sense and keep an eye on their credit card and debit card statements.

“A person can still have possession of a card, but if someone else has the number and information off the back, they can make charges to that account,” Morales said.

Scams can come in all forms — telephone, internet, email and through regular mail, and people have to be wary of offers.

“If you didn’t enter a contest, you probably aren’t going to win it,” said Morales. “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

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