BBB offers tips on buying, using gift cards safely at Christmas

Gift cards are a popular and easy holiday gift available off the rack at retail stores or bought with a few clicks online.

Recipients love them, too. Better Business Bureau recently reported that according to the National Retail Federation, gift cards are the top-ranking item on many wish lists, with nearly 60 percent of consumers surveyed in a 2019 poll saying they would request gift cards.

Gift cards carry risks, too, and can be exploited by fraudsters, the BBB said. From January to September 2021, nearly 40,000 people reported $148 million stolen using gift cards, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The nonprofit watchdog’s regional offices warn that those who give and receive gift cards need to check the legal fine print that comes with the card. Gift card recipients may be on the hook for unwanted fees over time.

You can find some great deals on gift cards right before the holidays, but the Better Business Bureau has tips on using them safely. Read the fine print before you buy, and prevent theft by not reading the card number to anyone over the phone.

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