Tips on Protecting Your Gift Cards this Holiday Season

Miley Legal Group

Loved by some, loathed by others, the ubiquitous gift card is as popular as ever with nearly $100 billion in sales during 2012.

If you received a gift card recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has some pointers for you:

  • Read the card and all the terms and conditions.  Check for an expiration date or fees.
  • If the card’s value has expired or fees have been deducted, contact the company that issued the card.  They may still honor the card or reverse the fees.
  • Check with the person who gave you the card to see if you can get the original purchase receipt or the card’s ID number and then keep that information in a safe place.
  • Use your card as soon as you can.  They are easy to misplace and using them early will help you get the full value.
  • Treat your card like cash.  If you card is lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately.  Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, but other issuers will, for a fee.

Despite stricter guidelines for gift cards that went into effect in August of 2010 aimed at protecting buyers and recipients, problems can still occur with gift cards.  If you run into a problem with a gift card, your first step should be to contact the company that issued the card.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the issuing company, you can contact the FTC at or call them at 1-877-FTC-HELP.  West Virginia residents can also contact our Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-368-8808 or file a complaint online at