ANDY'S CONSUMER TIP OF THE DAY: Valentines Day Gift Card Scams - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

CONSUMER TIP OF THE DAY: Valentines Day Gift Card Scams

ANDY'S CONSUMER TIP OF THE DAY: Valentines Day Gift Card Scams

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OK, guys, I get it. We're not always Johnny-on-the-spot in getting our girl a good Valentine's Day gift.

Some of us (not me, not, really!) are procrastinators. Last-minute leg-draggers. We're left grabbing a gift card or gift certificate. Shoot, I'll take a gift card or certificate on Valentine's Day myself -- or anytime for that matter!

I have one rule on gift cards, though:  off the rack can lead to a hack. In December, I produced this investigation about how those gift card carousel racks in the middle of grocery stores and department stores are vulnerable to thieves and hackers. If you must buy a gift card at a grocery store or department store, shop the cards either behind the customer service desk or along the impulse-buy aisles at the registers. Those are more closely monitored and less likely to be compromised. If it's a gift card for a specific retailer or restaurant, buy one directly from that establishment.

Also, be aware that some gift cards have term limitations or expiration dates. Use them as soon as possible.

Claire Marsalis of the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs shared these tips about gift certificates and discounted services offered on Valentine's Day:

When you are sold a gift certificate:

  • In general, the expiration date must be at least two years after the date it was issued to you.
    You should not be charged a fee for the gift certificate to be issued to you.

  • Within two years of purchasing the gift certificate, you should not be charged service fees (including dormancy fees, latency fees, or administrative fees) that reduce the total value of the gift certificate.                                                                

  • A gift certificate does not include prepaid cards.

  • As always with shopping, be aware of return policies which are typically displayed in the store, on the receipts or on the businesses website.

  • Be sure to ask about the locations where the gift certificate(s) can be redeemed.

  • Inquire about the terms and conditions associated with purchasing and redeeming the gift certificate(s).

Websites like Groupon or Living Social are commonly used to purchase discounted services as gifts.Those services might include a free or discounted hair-styling, manicure, or pedicure. Before purchasing a discounted service, call the company or individual offering the discount to ensure the offer is legitimate.

Remember these tips when you visit a hair salon or nail salon to redeem your gift certificate or discount for services:

  • A manager or managing owner must be on site when the shop is open for business.
  • Everyone providing a service must have an active license at all times.
  • Instruments must be sanitized after every use.
  • Footbaths must be cleaned and disinfected after every use.
  • In every shop, a current Tennessee license and graded inspection sheet should be posted for the public to view.
  • Visit  to ensure the individual or company is properly licensed to operate in the State of Tennessee.
  • Visit  for more regulation information from the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners.

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