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What You Should Know About Gift Cards

Gift cards can be a convenient present for the holidays and special occasions. While they seem simple, it is important that both the giver and the recipient read the details for each card to avoid any misunderstandings and be aware of potential scams. There are also some helpful tips to consider when purchasing a gift card.

Beware of Scams

Scammers often use gift cards as a way to defraud people of their money because they’re just like cash – any misuse is hard to trace. Unlike credit cards, there typically isn’t any recourse for consumers when a gift card is stolen or used without authorization, so it is very hard to reverse the purchases or get a refund in these situations.

Remember, no business or government agency will ask you to make payments with gift cards, so if you are contacted in this manner, it is most likely a scam. It’s also a good rule of thumb to never make a payment over the phone or by wiring money unless you can confirm that the request for payment is legitimate.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a gift card scam, report the situation to your local police department. You may also want to notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which tracks scams and frauds.

In addition, you should immediately report the scam to the merchant or company that issued the card and ask if they can refund your money. Most issuers have toll-free telephone numbers available online, so you can call to report a lost or stolen card. You might get back the money left on the card or a portion of it, and sometimes there is a fee when they provide a refund, but still worth reporting. You may need to provide the receipt and the card number, so be sure to keep a record of that information.

Tips When Buying Gift Cards

  • Avoid buying gift cards from unknown sites. The cards may be counterfeit or stolen, so be sure to buy gift cards from sources you know and trust.
  • If you are buying a card from a retailer, check it before purchasing. Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to show the PIN number.
  • Be sure to read the gift card’s fine print. Know the terms and conditions. Is there an expiration date? Are there fees to use the card? Are there fees if the card is not used for a certain period of time?
  • If possible, register your gift card. This may help protect you in case the card is lost or stolen.

Now that you are better informed, be sure to share this information with the receiver of your gift so they can be prepared too!