Baltimore, Md. - December 26, 2013 - Gift cards are generally considered "safe" gifts by most gift-givers, because they allow the recipient to select exactly what they want. But what can you do if you don't shop where the card was purchased? Before sending off a gift card in the mail for payment, make sure to check out the company thoroughly. Here are a few factors to consider:
· Determine how long the company has been in business.
· Check with Better Business Bureau at bbb.org for customer experience and most importantly how or if the business addressed the issues.
· Look to see if the company is affiliated with a larger, well-known parent company. If you're having difficulty finding history.
· Read the company's policies carefully to see if there are money-back guarantees and other consumer protections.
First-time sellers should be prepared to be scrutinized when they sell to a company, especially if they are selling a gift card with a large balance. You may be asked for personal information such as a driver's license to verify your identity. That could be a sign that the business is taking steps to protect subsequent buyers and avoid fraudulent sellers, but you better be sure the company is legit before you hand over personally identifying or financial information.
If you're keeping your gift cards, here are some additional BBB tips:
Spend the gift card as quickly as possible. Obviously, you should give your purchase some thought. But even though gift cards have a five-year shelf life, the longer you hold on to it, the more likely you are to forget about it or misplace it.
If at all possible, register the card. Most companies will replace lost or stolen gift cards. But the only way this is possible is if you register the card in your name. Some companies will charge a replacement fee for the inconvenience -- but even this is better than missing out on the balance entirely.
Spend the entire amount so you're not left with pennies. You might be likely to discard a card with a small amount on it, so try to use it up in full.