'Tis the season of buyer beware. Gift cards may have their problems, but they continue to be extremely popular. 

According to GiftCard.com:

Over $100 Billion is spent on Gift Cards annually
93% of U.S. consumers purchase or receive a gift card annually
Consumers spend an average of $213/year on gift cards
83% of corporations use gift & prepaid cards for employee incentives

72% of customers will spend MORE than the value of their card
On average, the recipient will spend 20% MORE than their gift card value
90% of gift cards are used within the first 60 days

We like our gift cards. When we give a gift card as a gift we want them to be legit. Here are a few tips from the Better Business Bureau to consider when buying a gift cards.

  • Don’t buy gift cards from online auction sites. This is a large source of gift card fraud. These cheap gift cards may be worthless to you. Some of these cards are real, but many are stolen, counterfeit or used. It’s not worth the risk.
  • Only buy gift cards directly from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s website — No matter how much cheaper they may be somewhere else. If you do buy a gift card online, make sure you buy it from the place that you plan to use it.
  • Don’t buy gift cards off of publicly displayed racks in retail stores. Don’t assume that because gift cards are inaccessible to the public, they are safe. Store employees can participate in gift card scams too.
  • Always carefully examine both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you can see a PIN number, put the card back and get a different one. If a gift card looks like it could have been tampered with, don’t buy that gift card.
  • Always ask the store cashier to scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you charged. This will also protect you from crooks who exchange worthless cards for the cards you think you are buying.
  • Always keep your receipt as a proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card. Since many retailers can track where the gift card was purchased, activated and used, some retailers will replace a stolen card for you if you have your receipt.
  • If possible, register your gift card at the store’s website. Although not all stores offer this option, you can uncover any misuse of your gift card sooner and report it more quickly.
  • Finally, never, ever give your Social Security number, date of birth or any other unneeded private information when you purchase a gift card. No reputable company will ask for this information.

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