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For Immediate Release
December 5, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN ADVISES CONSUMERS TO READ THE FINE PRINT
ON GIFT CARDS

The holiday season is upon us and shopping for gifts can be stressful. What 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.

But Marylanders who are purchasing gift cards this holiday season will benefit 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. Groups interested in the newsletter should call 410-576-6500.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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