Columbia, SC (WLTX) - As we get closer to the holidays, you might want to rethink putting gift cards on your list.

“I was furious. I was very angry,” Carolyn Free explained how she felt when $75 had been stolen from a gift card she purchased.

Free and her co-workers had given a $75 gift card from a Walmart in Columbia to their co-worker who was expecting a baby.

However, when the expecting parents tried to use it, the balance was zero.

“They told her that the card had already been used,” Free said of the surprising incident.

Free filed a police report with the Columbia Police Department and spoke with investigators.

Free says officers told her that someone probably grabbed the gift cards kept in the open, removed the silver strip and recorded all of the information. Free says the officers say thieves will then will put another sticker on and put it back on the shelf. They will continue to check to see if it's been activated and once it has, they will use that information to use the money.

“They had a suspect on-camera in Conway, South Carolina using my card,” Free said. “When I activated the card, three hours later the card was used.”

Receipts and the police report show someone had used all of the money on the card.
The police report says a male was seen using the card at a Walmart in Conway at the self-checkout.

“I was totally unaware that this could even happen,” Free said. “The reason I wanted to get this out is with the holidays coming up, I don't want anybody to have to go through what I went through with that.”

The Conway Police Department is investigating the incident with the Columbia Police Department.

Free still has not gotten the money back and says she will no longer be using gift cards. Walmart officials tell us they are looking into the incident and will be contacting Free.

Consumer experts suggest only buying gift cards that are stored behind the counter and away from public access.

They also suggest looking on the back of gift cards to make sure the card doesn't looked scratched or tampered with.

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