Year in and year out, gift cards are continually the most-requested presents during the holiday season. State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald wants Iowa consumers to make sure they take full advantage of their gift cards. “Each year, gift cards go unused because the cards are lost or forgotten,” said Fitzgerald. “Gift cards reported as unclaimed property to the treasurer’s office means that someone has been deprived of their use.” Whether you give or receive a gift card during the holiday season, these tips can help protect the value of the card throughout the year:
• When purchasing a gift card, buy from a known and trusted source. Be wary of online auction sites.
• Treat a gift card like cash.
• Consider the company’s location and reputation before purchasing. Buy gift cards from retailers where you know the recipient will shop.
• Give the original receipt to the recipient in the event it is needed to replace a lost or stolen gift card.
• Use the card as soon as possible. Verify if the card has an expiration date or fees that reduce the card’s value over time.
• Read the small print.
“We encourage retailers to honor all gift cards they sell, even those that have expired,” said Fitzgerald. “In doing so, retailers stay on friendly terms with their customers.”
Consumers with questions or concerns regarding an expired gift card a retailer will not honor are encouraged to contact the state treasurer’s office. Please provide a copy of the gift card and a brief letter stating the circumstances. The information can be sent to the address below or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.