With billions in gift card sales expected, advocates warn of fin - WFSB 3 Connecticut

With billions in gift card sales expected, advocates warn of fine print

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(MGN photo) (MGN photo)

As experts predict that gift cards will add billions of dollars to the economy this holiday season, consumer advocates are warning shoppers to learn what they can and can’t do with them.

The Connecticut Better Business Bureau said many have consequences in addition to their options and benefits.

It cited a survey from the National Retail Federation that said consumers are expected to spend $31 billion on gift cards by the end of 2015. In 2014, that number was $26 billion.

In 2003, Connecticut became the first state to prohibit fees and expiration dates for cards.

However, there is an exception for cards that fall under federal law. Federal regulations do allow some fees for cards issued by financial institutions or some shopping malls.

The BBB issued some tips on how to handle bad gift card situations.

If a business closes its doors, the BBB recommends checking out nearby competitors or another business that may offer some sort of credit for the card.

Still, it recommends using the card as soon as possible.

If a receiver doesn’t want the gifted card, there are a few websites they can use to sell it. Just make sure it’s a reputable site.

In terms of buying a gift card, the BBB recommended inspecting it before you buy it. Criminals can scratch away the wax on the back to reveal and steal its serial number.

The BBB also recommended not buying cards through classified advertisements. That’s a good way to end up with a counterfeit card.

Recipients should be given the original receipt in case the card is lost or stolen.

Also, beware of email or texted giveaway cards. Links like those are known methods by scammers to steal information.

More information on protection can be found here.

Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.