Tyler Better Business Bureau
Stocking up on gift cards is a popular and convenient way to check off your gift list, especially when you are unsure of what to buy for a family member or friend, or if you are in a rush to complete your holiday shopping. However, some gift cards may have hidden fees and strings attached. BBB reminds consumers that taking the time to read the fine print before buying and giving will save time and headaches.
BBB provides the following tips regarding gift card purchases:
- Purchase from sources you know and trust. Watch out for fakes. Social media and text messaging are often used to promote fake gift cards with the aim of stealing customers’ bank details and other personally identifiable information.
- Shoppers should avoid any site which requires them to take any series of questions or provide detailed personal or account information from unsolicited sources. Make sure you avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
- Read the fine print before you buy. Is there a fee to buy the card? If you buy a card by phone or online, are there shipping and handling fees? If you don’t like the terms and conditions, you may want to consider purchasing them elsewhere. Also check to see whether any fees will be deducted from the card after the card has been purchased.
- Inspect the card before purchasing. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Make sure 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.
- Give the recipient the original receipt so they can verify the card’s purchase in case it is lost or stolen.
- Consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant to make sure the recipient gets the most out of your gift.
- Zales of gift cards are expected to increase this year. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, 62 percent of consumers are planning to buy gift cards this holiday season.
- If you are the recipient of a gift card, it’s a good idea to make a copy of the front and back of the card and attach it to the gift receipt. If the card is lost or stolen, some companies will replace the missing gift cards for a fee.
- For more information on U.S. regulations of gift cards, visit www.ftc.gov/bcp /edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt010.pdf For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline at 903-581-8373.