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Pennsylvania Grocery store employees are working to stop scams | FOX43 Finds Out

Each year, more and more people fall victim to gift card scams. Now the PA Dept. of Banking and Securities is working with grocery stores to help spot the scam.

LEMOYNE, Pa. — An AARP study finds that one in three American adults has fallen victim to a gift card scam.

Pennsylvanians are losing thousands of dollars each year when people think they have to pay a fine or some other payment with a gift card.

It's almost always a scam.

FOX43 Finds Out what your local grocery store is doing to try not only to spot the scam. but stop it too.

For people around south-central Pennsylvania, your local grocery store cashier may be a familiar face.

Now, that cashier may be asking you a bit more than - just <another nat of hi, how are you today>

All of the front-end employees at this Karns Grocery store in Lemoyne are now trained to spot gift card scams. 

"We do train the cashiers to just ask general questions, not anything accusatory or anything like that," said Julie Serino, Director of Customer Service at Karns Quality Foods.

She says training from the Pennsylvania Department Of Banking & Securities has helped stopped some customers from falling victim.

"We have had some cases where people have come in recently for a large volume," said Serino.

Katrina Boyer is the Investor Education Coordinator for the PA Department of Banking and Securities. She hosts the training for grocery and convenience store workers all over the state. 

"If I know that a certain grocery store is looking out for my elderly mother-in-law, I'm going to frequent that store as often as I can," said Boyer.

A big part of that training is getting cashiers to ask customers questions - especially if it's an elderly person buying a lot of gift cards. Things like what's the occasion? Or even telling a story about someone who lost a lot of money to a gift card scam.

Boyer said, "Being able to ask those questions goes a really long way to able to put a stop to it."

There are other ways the state is working with stores to stop the scam too.

It's one of the reasons why the gift cards are usually closer to check out.

and why you can't buy them if you're doing self-checkout.

Stores also have gift card limits. 

Serino said, "We train everyone to call for help if they question anything, we have a limit on what a cashier can actually sell."

It's not just your local grocery stores that are doing this.

Back in 2018, Pennsylvania's attorney general struck a deal with Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.

Now, those retailers hold similar training sessions and have similar restrictions.

However, even though more people on trying to stop the scam, it's still happening.

Boyer said, unfortunately, the pandemic has only made it worse. 

"After a year of staying home, people are incredibly lonely and they're going to be falling more and more for these types of things. So it's important we get in front of it and put a stop to it," said Boyer.

If you or someone you know wants to sign up for even more training with the PA Department of Banking and Securities, email informed@pa.gov.

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