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N4T Investigators: Gambling on gift cards - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Gambling on gift cards

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Sticky's Smoke Shop owner Rachelle Bronson didn't have high hopes when she appealed the nearly $225 charge.

"They say oh fill out this dispute but you never win it," said Bronson.

So she says she wasn't surprised when she lost yet another appeal.

"As usual we lost and according to them we are out of time and can do nothing at this point," Bronson said in a text message to News 4 Tucson Investigator Nick VinZant.

The dispute Bronson is talking about is what's called a "chargeback". It happens when a credit card provider charges a retailer for what it considers an incorrect charge.

And Bronson says she's been filling a lot of them because of a growing problem with stolen or fraudulent gift cards.

"There's no way to protect myself from these gift card thefts. We called them (credit card providers). We specifically asked them what can we do to protect ourselves from this threat. Their answer to us was I don't know. It's your problem," said Bronson.

When Bronson rings them up she says the cards process normally, but then - sometimes weeks later - the cards get reported as stolen and Bronson is out however much was spent.

News Four Tucson Investigators contacted Visa and MasterCard about Bronson's problem.

In an email response MasterCard says they have systems in place to deal with these so called "chargebacks".

"Protective measures are in place to prevent merchants from accepting or being responsible for gift card fraud," said a MasterCard spokesperson.

"Merchants have the right to "chargebacks" which enables them to dispute and fraud charges that they deem unfair. The fraudulent charge is then re-evaluated by the merchant, the merchant's bank, MasterCard and other involved parties and the decision could be partially or fully reversed." 

"Ya know it's just hard. It's very hard to try and stay open and keep going when you have a small business and you lose money on things like this," said Bronson.

Mastercard has a list of chargeback prevention tips on their website. Those tips include authorizing transactions, verifying a person's identity, adhere to terms and conditions, and update terminals. You can view the full list here: http://www.mastercard.com/elearning/top_ten/story_html5.html

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