Got a mysterious "gift card" in the mail

I got a short letter accompanied by a strange ‘gift card’ in the mail today. The gift card looks like a credit card, but is blue, and has no real logo. Here is a picture.

The letter with it said:

Dear <name>,
Congratulations, we would like to reward you with a free gift card. There is no cost to you to enjoy the use of this reward. This is our way oh showing our appreciation for a testimonial from you regarding your experience with our free service. You will be able to use your gift card at any retail establishment where gift cards are accepted.

ACM Enterprises, Inc.
I then got a toll free number to call for details (I got it too late to call today, so I have to wait until monday.)

So…what gives? It definitely doesn’t seem on the up and up, and I suspect when I call I’ll be asked to buy something, or do this and that and the other thing to use a card that probably isn’t accepted anywhere. I mean…any retail establishment where gift cards are accepted? What does that even mean?

What’s the deal with testimonial it says you gave?

There is really not much that is free.

I got something like this, presenting itself as a “gift card” however the card I got came with enough documentation for me to realize it was actually an unsecured line of credit, and if I used the “gift card” then I was actually taking on a high-interest loan. So I shredded it.

But this sounds different. (No better really, but different.) I’d be interested in hearing the explanation you get when you call the toll-free number.

Right… sounds dodgy. Especially if you don’t recall giving any such testimonial, I’d be pretty cynical. I’m pretty sure that if you call they will explain all about their great sales program (legit or otherwise) and make everything sound wonderful about their special offer of whatever at a fabulous introductory rate of whatever.

Different shopping malls have mall-wide gift cards - they could be talking about one of those - or about some card they’re promoting that they hope will be accepted more places.

Anyhow, there might be such a thing as largesse from folks you never heard of before, but, as Damon Runyon nearly said, that’s not the way to bet. If you feel you must respond at all, be wary. Be very wary.

“If it sounds too good to be true. It is.”
It could be the phone call itself, you call and explain about receiving the card, they “transfer” you and the call becomes a pay per minute deal, they keep you on the line or as long as possible w/ inticing questions and your next phone bill shows a large fee. They have all this recorded, including you requesting to be “transfereded” to the pay by minute line. You’ll have a difficult time getting it reversed, if you even can. Just one possible scenario, there are many more.
Cut it up, throw it in the trash and forget it.

Right there, that’s not true.
First off, without a Visa/MC/Discover/Amex logo it wouldn’t be accepeted everywhere credit cards are taken. But that’s not what it said, I just wanted to mention it.
Okay, when a store wants to accept gift cards, they have to do one of two things. Either they call their credit card processor and find out what gift card companies they work with and then call them OR they go out on the internet, look for gift card companies, then call their credit card processor and ask if they accept that company.
So based on that, we know that any specific gift card will only work at certain retail locations that accept the company that made the card.

Second. If you come into my store, and buy a gift card. Here’s what happens. I swipe the card, tell the machine that your putting 30 dollars on it. You hand me the money and that’s it. The CC company does not take the money, I (the business) keep the money, it doens’t work like a CC. In the case of a gift card, the credit card procesing comany simply acts as a record keeper letting you and I know how much is on the card at any given time.
So let’s say you walk into my store with that card. Let’s say I swipe it. There’s a good chance it won’t work, and that’s the end of that. I’m a bit fuzzy on the check balance, there’s a possibility that if my credit card processor works with that brand of card I may be able to check the balance, but I don’t remember off hand. Either way I won’t be able to do anything to the balance beuause it wasn’t issued at my store. To go even one step further, let’s say, just for kicks, I could run the card at my store. Like I said, it only acts as a record keeper. If I run the card for 20 dollars, the money won’t be deposited into my bank account like it would with a credit card.

So, no, that gift card will not work at any location that accepts gift cards. Plain and simple.
PS If it had a Visa/MC/Discover or Amex logo on it, this would a be an entirely different scenario. And what was the expiration date on that? Did it say 29/07??

It may be valid with say a dollar on it, and they use it as a snare to get you to call. I’ll bet it’s tied in to buying something over priced, and the card is worth $20 for the only retailer who happens to only sell something like potato mashers for $60. Sounds more like a cellphone company gimmick.

Try a reverse look up phone service on the phone number.

I’m wagering one of 4 types sent it:

  1. detective
  2. telemarketer
  3. debt collector
  4. identity theft artist

Others have explained the telemarketer angle.
One of the other 3 types could be fishing for personal information.
For instance, once you call and read off the info on the card, they now have your name and phone #. If you answer a few more questions, they might wind up with enough information to hijack some of your accounts, garnish your wages, attach your bank accounts… etc.

There’s a detective variation of this where they give you a free calling card. You run around using it, and they see how many calls you’re making to so and so…

I could be wrong, but I’m thinking it’s something simpler then that. You call them, either to ask about it (in which case they just repeat what it says, that you should just go ahead and use it) or because you tried it and it doesn’t work. At which point they say, boy, that’s strange and offer to just put the money in your checking account. And you can figure out the rest from there.
I say you call, give them BS info, and just see what they have to say. If it seems odd, I would report them to either the FBI or the FTC.

This statement, along with my father’s dictum that “Everything works on TV” has saved me more money and grief than I can describe.

I wouldn’t call them, as others have suggested that there are lots of scams that may be associated with that action.

But, next time I was planning on buying something, I’d try and use the gift card before offering real money. This way, you can see if it really works. And if it doesn’t, throw it away, knowing it was probably some sort of shady deal.

BTW: I once got an unsolicited gift card, but it was from my bank, as a reward for opening a new account. And it did have a visa logo on it, so I was able to use it anywhere without a problem.