What to Know Before Giving and Receiving Gift Cards

December 13, 2011

Denver, CO – December 13, 2011 – According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average consumer spent $145 on gift cards during the 2010 holiday season, averaging $40 spent per card. The NSF also states that more than half of holiday shoppers in 2010 said they would like to receive gift cards. It is no wonder why gift cards are all the rage; they are simple, fun and almost always guaranteed to please.

Unfortunately, in a down economy, some consumers may try to cut corners and purchase “discounted” gift cards from auction websites. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), gift cards bought from such sites or classifieds often turn out to be fraudulent or stolen.

BBB’s do’s and don’ts for giving gift cards:

o Don’t buy from online auction sites – only buy gift cards from reputable retailers. Gift cards sold at online auction sites are more likely to be counterfeit or obtained by fraudulent means. It’s even possible these cards could have no value when purchased.

o Do read the terms and conditions that are required to be clearly disclosed on the card’s packaging prior to purchasing. Understand any associated fees and expiration dates.

o Do examine gift cards closely before purchasing them at stores. Do not purchase cards that appear to have been tampered with. Criminals have been able to get info off of cards and wipe out their balances leaving you with a worthless purchase. It may be best to buy them from the customer service counter as opposed to a public rack.

o Do give the recipient the original receipt to verify the card’s purchase, in case it gets lost or stolen.

BBB’s do’s and don’ts for receiving gift cards:

o Do treat your card like cash. If it gets lost or stolen, immediately report it to the issuer.

o Don’t wait to use your card. It’s not unusual to misplace gift cards or to forget you have them. Also, retailers can charge fees after one year of inactivity as long as it is clearly disclosed.

# # # #

About the BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit www.denver.bbb.org for more information.