Be careful with the gift of gift cards

Published 12:03 am Saturday, December 12, 2015

It’s an easy jump.

Scammers recognize shopping for holiday gifts can be time-consuming, so in turn, many consumers turn to gift cards for convenience.

The plastic cards are everywhere from dollar stores to drugstores to online sales sites, but authorities want the public to know about the pros and cons of gift cards.

State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell recently provided tips for consumers who buy and use gift cards.

Buy from known and trusted sources: Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.

Read the fine print before buying: Is there a fee to buy the card?

Are there shipping and handling fees for cards bought by phone or online?

Give the recipient the original receipt: This protects the buyer and recipient in case the card is later lost or stolen.

Before you buy retail gift cards, consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. A card from a company that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business may be worth less than anticipated.

If the business closes a store near the recipient, it may be hard to find another location where the card can be used.

There are also tips for using gift card. Note any terms and conditions, and check for an expiration date or fees.

Ask anyone who gives you a card for its terms and conditions, the original purchase receipt or the card’s ID number. Keep this information in a safe place.

Use gift cards as soon as possible, because it’s not unusual to lose or forget about them.

Treat a card like cash, and if it is lost or stolen, report this immediately to the issuer.

For more holiday tips, River Region residents are encouraged to log onto or contact the Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889.