The holiday season is in full swing and many shoppers are looking for the best gift options. For those giving gift cards to family and friends, the Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana recommends consumers do some research before purchasing.
BBB receives numerous complaints each year involving the gift card industry. One scheme occurs when a scammer obtains the numbers from the back of the gift card by removing the protective stickers and records them. Then the purchaser buys the gift card, and by the time the recipient uses the gift card, there are no funds on it. The scammer has already used the funds.
“Consumers need to be on the lookout for gift cards that appear to be ‘open’ or out of their original package and cards that state an expiration date that is coming up or that has passed,” BBB president/CEO Tim Maniscalo said in a press release. “Shoppers should be wary of online auction sites that promise ‘full value guaranteed’ gift cards. It’s sites like these that are prone to selling old, valueless cards that leave the gift giver and receiver distraught.”
BBB recommends the following tips for both givers and receivers of gift cards this season:
• Know the rules — Federal rules that took effect in August 2010 are designed to protect consumers by restricting fees and addressing gift card expiration dates. These rules apply to two types of cards: retail gift cards, which can only be redeemed at select retailers and restaurants; and bank gift cards, which carry the logo of a payment card network like American Express, Visa or Mastercard and can be used wherever the brand is accepted. The money on gift cards can’t expire for at least five years from the date of the card purchase or when the last date of additional money was loaded.