BBB Urges Consumers to Play It Safe When Buying Gift Cards


ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- – Finding the perfect gift during the holiday season is not an easy job. A gift card is a hassle-free present that gives the recipient the opportunity to pick out something they really like or need. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers tips on how to choose the best gift card that will suit the recipient.

“The right card for the right person is very important to consider” said Dennis Horton, Director of the Rockford Office of the Better Business Bureau. “Also equally important is to make sure you read the fine print so you are aware of any fees and expiration dates.”

Gift card giving has been on the rise for years and according to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend roughly $29.8 billion on gift cards this year. The survey also states that gas station, department stores and restaurants are top choices for gift cards. Gift cards are popular for their convenience and also the freedom they give the recipient.

The BBB offers these tips when purchasing a gift card:

- Inspect the card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed, and 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.

- Know the rules. Understand the different types of gift cards: retail gift cards, which can only be redeemed at the retailers and restaurants that sell them; and bank gift cards, which carry the logo of a payment card network such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa and can be used wherever the brand is accepted.

- Check it out. Make sure you are buying from a known and trusted source. Always check out a business at 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? Will any fees be deducted from the card after it is purchased?

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