"Read the fine print at the time of purchase:" Fees, fine print and other gift card gotchas

MADISON -- It may be just a small piece of plastic, but a gift card can be anything you want it to be at the register.  And for a shopper, the convenience of stocking up on these cards is about as easy as it gets for buying gifts.  But despite this simplicity, there are some potential "gotchas" that need to be considered when purchasing cards for friends and loved ones or when using a card you have received.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection asks both card buyers and recipients to take steps to ensure that everyone gets the full value of the gift.

"The best guidance is for shoppers to read the fine print at the time of purchase and for recipients to use the card fairly quickly when received as a gift," said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection.

When buying a gift card:

    If you receive a gift card:

      For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.