ROCKFORD – There is a growing concern about a what is being identified as a gift card scam.
Women from across the country, including Northern Illinois, have reported receiving cards from a person identified as “Jenny B” congratulating them on their pregnancy. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of these mailings.
According to Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau, the cards being sent are packed with gift cards for motherhood related products.
“In some cases coupons are included with the gift cards and they all link back to Mother’s Lounge, LLC, a company based in Pleasant Grove, Utah,” Horton said.
Elizabeth S., of Genoa, Illinois, called recently called the BBB to report what she thought was a scam. She received the card containing the gift cards and coupons on Oct. 23. She noted that the cards and coupons were valued at $245. But she had no idea how or why she is on that mailing list because she is not pregnant.
Mother’s Lounge sends gift cards for their different online businesses. To date, BBB serving Northern Nevada and Utah has found fifteen affiliate businesses, including Thoughtful Gift Cards and Canopy Couture. These cards are sent all over the United States and Canada in an envelope which appears to have lost its return label, when it never had one in the first place. This seems to be a marketing tactic meant to make the envelope look more like mail from a friend.
“In past complaints to BBB consumers who have added a gift card to their orders appears to increase the shipping cost,” Horton said. “This increase appears to cover the majority of the cost of the gift card.”
The Better Business Bureau has suggested that the business owner, Jeanette Pierce, explain the price increase but has not received a response.
“These cards are being sent to women all across the U.S. and Canada with a number of complaints coming from the Midwest. Our concern is that more women across northern Illinois will soon be targets,” Horton added.
In the BBB’s review of more than 55 complaints and Scam Tracker reports for Mother’s Lounge, consumers who have purchased from these websites reported receiving lower quality products than expected.
When purchasing or using gift cards, BBB recommends that you:
- Read the fine print. Search the card’s packaging and the card itself for any fees, expiration dates, and terms and conditions. Some organizations charge service fees or will limit the gift card to “in store only” purchases, making it useless for online shopping.
- Start with Trust. It’s important to buy from sources you know and trust. Visit BBB.org to see a business’ BBB Business Profile and find trustworthy BBB Accredited Businesses. Make sure to look up the business at BBB.org to view its rating, complaint history and reviews from past customers.
- Examine the card and packaging for tampering. Make sure the packaging hasn’t been tampered with and check the back of the card to make sure that the PIN number hasn’t been exposed and no protective stickers have been removed.