QUINCY, Mass. -- Stop & Shop Cos.' move to a new gift-certificate program supplier is helping the retailer guard against the possibility of counterfeiting.
"We changed the gift certificates for security reasons," said Cheryl Coveney, spokeswoman for Stop & Shop here. "But by using these gift certificates, we were also able to cut the cost of printing in half."
The new certificates have a number of features that make them difficult to duplicate. "The gift certificates are printed on security paper, with microprinting -- printing smaller than the eye can see -- as well as watermarks and holograms," she added.
Coveney said Stop & Shop employees are trained to look for these marks when processing gift-certificate transactions.
"All our cashiers are trained and know what to look for," Coveney said. She added that there is a sample gift certificate at each register for cashiers "so they can determine if the certificate is real or not."
A source familiar with the situation said the new gift certificates are nearly impossible to duplicate. "Color copies are so popular and advanced today you can have some pretty significant losses to gift certificates," said the source. "It's very difficult [at the store level] to tell if it's a color copy or the real McCoy."
Coveney said that prior to the switch to the new gift certificates last August, Stop & Shop did not keep track of shrink caused by gift-certificate fraud. However, the retailer did have a problem with stolen gift certificates.
"We changed the security measures because we had previous gift certificates stolen from a printer," she said. " Then we knew we had to be stronger with our security measures." According to Coveney, Stop & Shop did not have any documented cases of fraud associated with the previous gift certificates.
Stop & Shop is a division of Ahold USA, Atlanta, and operates 193 stores in New England. The gift certificates are from Northern Bank Note, a security printing company based in Countryside, Ill.