How to Avoid Gift Card Exchange Scams

Eight in ten Americans planned to give gift cards during the holiday season, and the weeks after Christmas can make the difference between gift cards getting cashed in, or collecting dust in a wallet. 

Websites where consumers can sell and trade unwanted gift cards, or purchase them at a discounted rate have become more popular, and that's probably why scammers want a piece of the action.

Scams can include sending buyers expired gift cards, stolen gift cards, or fake gift cards with zero store value. 

So stick to those with an established reputation, or seek out online reviews of the website where you plan to do your gift card commerce. 

Be mindful that there may be fees attached for your transactions. And know whether the website acts simply as a facilitator between consumers, or offers you more protections.

And just because you don't plan to use a gift card in the next week or next month, doesn't mean you have to unload it. Federal law says gift cards are good for at least five years, if they have an expiration date at all.

(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)

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