Target Redcard Shutdowns: a Hoax?

Earlier I posted about emails forwarded to me from readers who claimed to have their Target Redcard accounts shut down. There’s also a thread on Flyertalk discussing this.

Frequent Miler wondered if it’s a hoax.

I certainly think the emails look strange — they’re quite specific about the activity that caused the shut down, mentioning specific dollar amounts. I wouldn’t expect an email letting a customer know their account is shut down to be so specific about the activity that caused it. It’s also interesting that the second version of the letter forwarded to me mentioned other amounts. It’s strange to see letters so customized.

So… is this fake? Some commenters say they’ve been shut down as well.

It’s more common than most realize to find misinformation posted in the comments on blogs, and on forums like Flyertalk — people writing about deals not working, about getting in trouble or losing money — to try to convince others not to take advantage of opportunities, to keep deals for themselves.

Here’s a couple of old-ish examples I have handy.

  • Here’s a Flyertalk post from 3 years ago where half the messages written in the first year of the posting were from people who actually were taking advantage of the US Airways mileage multiplier (buy tickets, buy points, cancel the ticket within 24 hours) in a pretty big way. Their posts were meant to make people think there wasn’t really a deal there to be had.

  • When Wyndham had a promotion that let you buy miles for 0.8 cents apiece there was a concerted effort in at least one of the ‘private’ forums to post misinformation (leaving comments saying the deal is risky, saying your account got closed). Rinse, repeat using different names to comment under and using proxies for posting to mask that it’s coming from the same person.

Ultimately I don’t think it matters whether this is ‘real of fake’.

I’m not sure it should change anyone’s behavior either way (although some will start making transactions in differing odd numbers – heh) — it simply serves as a good reminder that you should never ‘play’ with more money than you can afford to have withheld from you for a period of time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Misinformation is also on forums like milepoint. I know you have a financial stake in milepoint, but it seems petty to only mention flyertalk as a source of forum misinformation

  2. All the more reason to ramp UP abuse. This is way to good to last for very long, so you might as well get what you can NOW.

  3. Might as well hit it hard. I think these emails are a hoax but either way it is in your best interest to hit it as hard as you can as long as you can. How much longer are they going to allow credit card loading anyway? It’s dead today or dead tomorrow. Maximize your opportunities while you can.

  4. Seems like some of the bloggers on here could figure it if some were fakes. There were at least a few people who responded to posts earlier today confirming that they were shut down. If those were people who had commented before I would imagine the blogger would be able to look back at older comments they’ve made and determine if those were fishy or just standard comments. Seems to me if something were bothering target they would just shut it down or put different limits on it rather than trying to coax a few people out of fear to stop/slow down.

  5. This old (as in experienced) MS-ers rule of never pay with more money than you can afford to have tied up it’s like saying never drive more if you can’t afford to get hit by a car.

    How many people who go to Target/Walmart repetitively and wait in line to MS can afford to have thousands of dollars held?

    How about “MS responsibly, whatever that means to you”?

  6. Been searching unsuccessfully for these “private” MS forums I occasionally see mentioned on Boarding Area. I completely understand why bloggers feel an ethical responsibility to keep this stuff under-the-radar under the principle of not “killing” deals, but for some of us who have, dare I say, a more serious need for cheap travel than a penchant for luxury (e.g., low income + family obligations on the other side of the planet) it sure feels like college all over again. You know, when you’re spending all your Saturday nights in the library studying your butt off for a 4.0 GPA when your rich classmates are constantly getting invited to frat parties and just open a filing cabinet to review last year’s exams the night before the test…

  7. I see why many are skeptical about this email being a hoax spread by some people or groups of people who try their best to keep gigs to themselves. There are private boards that vet on those who register and put them on certain levels before they are allowed to read ‘juicy’ posts that are only accessible to certain members. This board like to ridicule/shame newbies who ask what they deem as stupid questions or call companies to clarify something. And yet, the veterans/admin/mods abuse gigs like the Radius Bank gig, which fortunately for the bank wisened up and blocked those who were putting in $5000 and UP initial deposit with their credit cards and opening several accounts. All because they can! But they like to blame stupid newbies who call for ruining THEIR gig. The abusers blame everyone except themselves for ruining a gig, abuse of RB is not an exception since a whole lot of MSers who hold this card don’t use it as Target/amex intended them for use of unbanked people. This game boils down to what’s in it for the individual, not for the good of others. just my opinion.

  8. I don’t think anyone can definitely say this is a hoax. Those on FT saying it is a hoax are not amex personnel who has the authority to say that with finality. If it’s a hoax and amex decides to sue them, so be it. But if it turns out like Blue Wednesday, it may be the end of CC loading to RBs.

  9. @Jack

    Where did you read where it says the Hoax was confirmed on the FT thread? Do you have a link to the post?

  10. That FT thread is now locked as mods seem to agree that the hoax went on long enough. Just be wise in how you treat Red and you’ll be fine. Don’t be so obvious by putting 1k in and then removing 1k, especially by ACH to a bank. Bill pay is fine, throw in some Target shopping, basically use it responsibly so Target sees this marketing tool as worthwhile. As long as all parties profit from it, then it will continue. The RedCard has been a great marketing tool that has brought Target new customers that have never shopped there. They increased foot traffic and many of us are now shopping there since we tend to shop where we also ms.

  11. @noonRadar – I think you’d be surprised at how many very wealthy people play this game. (Check out the Millionaire Next Door books– those people get that way by extreme frugality and a willingness to use their time instead of $.)

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