BBB Warns of Scams as Gift Card Spending Sets Record

December 04, 2013

DENVER – Consumers plan to spend more money on gift cards this season than ever before, according to the National Retail Federation, with total spending expected to reach almost $30 billion. The Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder advises shoppers to know their rights and avoid gift card scams.

The BBB receives hundreds of complaints about gift cards each year. Complaints commonly allege issues with usability and incorrect charges applied. Text scams that falsely claim recipients have won a gift card are extremely common during the holidays and expected to surge this season as they did in 2012.

The BBB recommends the follow tips before buying a gift card:

·        Know the rules. New federal rules that took effect in August of 2010 are designed to protect consumers restrict fees and affect gift card expiration dates. The standards prohibit retailers from setting expiration dates less than five years after the card is purchased and from charging dormancy, inactivity and service fees unless the card has not been used for at least 12 months. If fees are charged after this period, the details of such fees must be clearly disclosed on the card.

·        Check it out. Always buy gift cards from known and trusted source. Visit to check out any business and use to find BBB Accredited businesses. Avoid online auction sites, because cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.

·        Read the fine print. Is there a fee to buy the card? Are there shipping and handling fees for cards bought by phone or online? Will any fees be deducted from the card after it is purchased?

·        Inspect the card before buying. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed, and that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.

·        Provide a receipt. Give the recipient of the gift card the original receipt in case the card is lost, stolen or there is a discrepancy with the balance.

·        Treat the gift card like cash. Protect gift cards as you would cash and use them quickly. Report lost or stolen cards to the issuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, while others will, usually for a fee.

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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, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports 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, there are 113 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.