A particular gift card retailer has recently upped its game on flagging accounts with significant past purchase volume, and unfortunately the flag prevents future orders from processing so it’s effectively a ban.

The flag has affected one of my accounts in the last two weeks and I know it’s affected at least a hand-full of readers’ accounts too. If you’re stuck in this situation, you can probably unstick yourself with a little bit of effort. The same technique works for most bans that don’t involve positive ID validation, so consider taking this as a general technique for winning at life.

The Technique

To get around the ban, you need to follow reader Vince’s advice: “Think a bit about how you would correlate accounts if you were a retailer, then break those correlations.” The obvious ones?

Each of those things might reveal a link between two accounts that otherwise aren’t linked. So when you’re banned, change each of them. For IP addresses, unplugging your router and plugging it back in may be all you need, but a VPN works in a pinch. For cookies, switching your browser or clearing all site-data will do the trick, and so on. Of course, it’s possible that there are less obvious correlations too, don’t consider this list to be exhaustive.

Yes, yes, I can already hear some of the questions the last bullet brings: “If I change my address, how will my credit card charge go through?” Easy answer – effectively no retailer actually verifies billing addresses; instead they verify zip code (if they verify anything at all). Does your zip code have another address? I know mine does.

Good luck getting out of those bans!

Winning at life looks different for everybody.