December 5, 2006
CURRAN ADVISES CONSUMERS TO READ THE FINE PRINT
ON GIFT CARDS
holiday season is upon us and shopping for gifts can be stressful.
do you get for that person who has everything? Gift cards
are an increasingly popular gift-giving option that can please
both the gift-giver and the recipient. But Maryland Attorney General
J. Joseph Curran, Jr. advises consumers to read the fine print
before investing in the cure-all gift option in the latest issue
of his consumer newsletter, Consumer’s Edge.
Many consumers who have received gift cards in the past have unhappily
discovered that their card expired before they used it or the card
lost its value as a result of fees imposed by the issuing company.
Marylanders who are purchasing gift cards this holiday season
from a state law that went into effect July 1, 2006.
Store-specific gift cards, which can be used to buy merchandise
from a particular store, may not expire less than four years after
the date of purchase and may not impose fees or charges of any
kind during that four-year period. General-purpose cards—cards
that are issued by banks and processed through national credit
or debit services, such as Visa, MasterCard, or American Express—can
still expire in less than four years and can impose fees that will
reduce the value of the card. However, the general-purpose card
has to disclose its expiration date and all fees that will be imposed.
“Maryland consumers should take full advantage of the recently
passed law when purchasing gift cards,” Curran said.
To find out more information on gift cards, and the laws that
came into effect, go to www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/125.pdf.
Curran’s office distributes The Consumer’s
Edge through businesses, schools, and community associations.
in the newsletter should call 410-576-6500.