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Plans for the weekend? Celebrate "National Use Your Gift Card Day" on January 16th

Friday, January 15, 2021

Blog topics:  Archive

By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

The popularity of gift cards is undeniable. It's estimated that more than half of Americans purchased gift cards during the 2020 holiday season.

According to a recent report, it's expected that the gift card market in the U.S. will reach $221.1 billion by 2024 (from $163 billion in 2019), with Millennials and Gen Z consumers driving much of the sales.

Of course, as with a lot of things we try to protect, cybercriminals are already out there trying to steal your gift cards for themselves, even BEFORE the cards are purchased.

So, as you get ready to redeem your gift card, either online or in-store, you'll want to follow some simple steps from Bolster Research to stay safe and enjoy your shopping experience, including:

  • Look closely at the card to make sure none of the protective stickers have been removed or that the codes on the back of the card haven't been scratched off to show the PIN number.
  • If you haven't already, register the card, change the security code and the PIN and use the card as soon as you can, so as to lessen the opportunity for the card to be lost or stolen.
  • ALWAYS be sure to go directly to the retailer's website -- by typing the store's URL into your browser -- to confirm or check the gift card balance. Bogus websites, links, e-mails, and text messages exist in a variety of different forms to make it look as though they are trying to "help" you. Instead, what happens is that your gift is stolen, along with your personal and financial information.

It's also a good idea to overspend the amount of the gift card to avoid leaving any sort of balance. It also enables you to hand the card over to the retailer to recycle it. Purchasing a small useful item, such as lip balm or treating yourself to small chocolate candy, is a good way to complete the purchase.

In doing so, you'll be able to treat yourself to something nice. And that's a bigger deal than you might think. Recent statistics from Mercator Advisory Group Inc. indicated that $3.5 billion in gift cards went unredeemed last year.

Here's to having a safe shopping experience!