BBB Advises, Read the Fine Print Before Purchasing a Gift Card
December 13, 2013

Gift cards may be the ideal solution forthat person on your list you are having trouble finding a perfect gift for.They take the guess work out of gift giving, but you sure don’t want to leavethe recipient feeling bamboozled or worse, with a worthless card. Gift cardsmay have hidden fees and strings attached. It’s important to read the fineprint before buying and giving.


“You want to be sure you the recipient areclear on the terms of use for the card or if there are any fees that they couldincur,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureauof Central New England. “Also, remember to check the car to ensure it was nottampered with before you purchase it, as this may be a sign of fraudulentactivity by scammers.”


The United States has recently made changesin federal laws to improve consumers’ chances of getting full value out of thecards they buy and give. These rules generally apply to gift certificates, storegift cards and general use prepaid cards, which are often branded by paymentnetworks such as Visa or MasterCard.


Here are some helpful tips from BBBregarding gift card purchases:


Buy from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying giftcards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or mayhave been obtained fraudulently.


Read the fine print before you buy. Is there a fee tobuy the card? If you buy a card by phone or online, are there shipping andhandling fees? If you don't like the terms and conditions, buy elsewhere.


See whether any fees will be deducted from the cardafter you purchase it.


Inspect the card before you buy it. Verify that noneof the protective stickers have been removed. Make sure that the codes on theback of the card haven't been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report anydamaged cards to the store selling the cards. Don’t purchase a card if codes onthe back have been scratched off. Scammers may use this information to trackthe card and take the money off of it after it is purchased.


Give the recipient your original receipt so they can verifythe card's purchase in case it is lost or stolen.


For more information on U.S. regulations ofgift cards: