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Beware of Gift Card Scams

December 17, 2012
Plain English Version

Gift cards, good for use in the places that sell them, are becoming more popular every year. They leave the choice of gift to the holder of the card. No more gifts that are the wrong size, wrong color or not wanted at all.

Part of the reason they are popular is that now most can be used on the Internet or even downloaded by smartphones. This means that the theft of gift card numbers has become more popular.

Big changes in expiration dates for the cards and hidden fees took place with passage of the CARD Act of 2009. Now they are easier than ever to give and to use.

New cards allow the user to check balances, refill the cards, and store the cards on digital phones.

Companies that issue the cards do not record the names of the buyers or the names of the people who receive the cards. An expert says, “Protections are not as clean for these cards as they are for debit or credit cards.” And most gift cards cannot be replaced if they are lost or stolen.

Buyers of gift cards should check to see if they could be used online or only in the stores that sold them.

Some gift cards are seasonal, or offer bonus rewards to the user. For example, The Children’s Place offers a free $10 e-gift card for every $40 in gift cards purchased by December 31, 2012.

Gift cards are great – but you should them use with care.

The Wall Street Journal

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