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This just maybe the perfect theft of your cash

Updated on November 19, 2011

Shoppers need to watch closely at what occurs at the checkout, especially when handing over a credit card or purchasing gift cards.

As the economy struggles more temporary help is being utilized by retailers.Temporary help has always been used during the Holidays, but with fluctuating sells throughout the year, by using temp help allows retailers to better control labor and benefit expenses.

Temporary workers, and those with criminal minds can float more easily from merchant to merchant, and become harder to detect when they are committing theft from customers.

There has always been the threat of checkout clerks short changing cash being paid back to a customer. With less cash transfers criminal clerks are now resorting to credit card and gift card fraud.

Here are some of the ways criminal minded clerks can steal from you at the checkout; they can clone your card by either running it through a scanning device under or close to the counter or they can have a phone App on a smart phone or a card reader close by to capture credit card information transmitted by your walk and scan type credit cards.

Since more and more stores are using the customer credit card terminal the newest trend is for the clerk to simply push the cash back key, and at the end of their shift short the cash drawer for the entire customer cash back amounts they have accumulated during the shift

Your best defense is to try and avoid using walk and scan cards all together. These are the touch and go cards that do not require the reading of the magnetic strip. They are very convenient but make you very vulnerable to theft by someone just walking by with a card scanner, or having a phone App or scanner close by. Even a bagger or a customer pretending to be looking at the magazine rack at the checkout could be scanning your card as they are acting like a phone or text message just came in to them.

Your next defense is to watch very carefully if the clerk needs to scan your card by telling you the card didn’t go through and they need to scan it again. Even with the customer terminals, clerks are often required to log in numbers off credit cards into the system, this is for you security and store verification, but it does allow clerks looking to steal a way to touch and scan your credit card. Be suspicious if they just seem clumsy and drop your card having to bend down to pick it up.

Be sure to always look at your receipts for the correct amount of the purchase and that no cash back has been selected.

Gift cards are becoming more popular for shoppers to purchase. No wonder with the ever increasing hassle and cost of shipping and gift wrapping, the concept of purchasing a gift card and dropping into an envelope is becoming the wave of giving gifts. Besides the recipient can go purchase whatever they want, so gift cards make it easy on both sides.

Gift card blanks are kept on display racks in stores and at the checkout; they are empty until the clerk programs in the amount that you want on the card. Clerks can quickly shuffle cards at the counter, credit one that goes underneath something and then give you another blank one. The process has become a bit more sophisticated because of this practice, but you leaving with a blank gift card to give as a gift still have a high potential.

After giving it as a gift your recipient, unless it is a child or close family member, may be afraid to ever say anything to embarrass you. Or they might just assume the card was damaged or expired, as most people will throw these in a drawer or stick them in the back of a wallet and forget about them. This means a temp clerk moving from store to store could easily walk away with 100 cards in a week with small balances of $25 each, ($2500) and never get caught.

This actually happened to me, I gave a $200 gift card to a good friend for helping me out. She found it was empty when she went to checkout. I knew she was really needing that for her children's gifts It was very embarrassing for me, it was embarrassing to her, thankfully she told me.

This was a large popular store and after I encountered the management continual denial of having a problem they finally admitted to me that they had the police arrest one of their clerks for gift card fraud, and then quickly refunded my money.

What was even more amazing is the only way they caught it was the clerk and her daughter were dumb enough to show up to the same store on her day off to go shopping with a stack of the stores gift cards, it just happened to catch the managements attention.

Your best defense is to watch the activation process closely, the clerk should show you the card they are activating, let you see the amount they are entering, and then hand it directly to you. They should also hand you a receipt identifying the number on the card and the amount that was activated on the card. If you purchase more than one card each process should be the same. Each card number and the amount should be listed on the total receipt.

If you are not completely satisfied, ask to have the card balance scanned to check that the card holds the amount you purcahsed, either by the clerk or go directly to the customer service desk and have them verify it for you.

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