12 On Your Side: Gift cards popular but buyer beware

12 On Your Side
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Grinches are banking on gift cards to steal your Christmas spirit and much more this holiday season.

According to the Better Business Bureau, 62 percent of consumers will purchase a gift card for a friend this Christmas.

Janet Ziglar buys almost exclusively gift cards for her grandchildren.

"Oh, and iTunes, you gotta have the tunes," she said.

Ziglar has never worried about someone stealing the information off of the back of the gift cards she purchases.

However, Gigi Turner with the BBB says every consumer should inspect it before buying it.

"Scam artists will come in and literally shoplift the gift cards, take them home and photographed the front and back of the gift card once they removed the number that is there," Turner said.

The thieves will then return the cards to the store and wait on someone to purchase them. Once someone puts money is on the card, the scam artist use the information they stole to spend it.

Consumers should look on the back of each card before buying one. You want to make sure the scratch off or sticker hasn't been tampered with by someone.

Another thing you want to keep an eye out for is add-on fees. Most credit gift cards, like Visa, charge a fee. Keep mind that a $100 card may only be worth $94 after buying it.

The FTC recently cracked down on expiration dates on gift cards, so now most don't expire until after five years. Still some will deduct a percentage of the value after a certain amount of time. Make sure you read the rules on the card before making your purchase.

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