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Dept. of Consumer Protection: Use holiday gift cards ASAP

HARTFORD — The state Department of Consumer Protection has a tip for consumers: use up those gift cards as soon as you can.

The DCP says that there’s a risk associated with not using gift cards received as holiday gifts as soon as possible.

“We want consumers to enjoy the gifts they’ve received over the holidays with their families. We know that after the holiday season many people have had enough of shopping and can be very busy returning gifts and trying to fulfill New Year’s resolutions- – and using a gift card is the last thing on our mind,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris, “DCP wants to encourage consumers to take a little time for themselves post-holiday, and use those gift cards right away.”

In Connecticut, gift cards are not allowed to expire by state law. So gift cards from places not covered by a financial institution cannot have inactivity fees or expiration dates.

However, federal law states gift cards that are issued by a bank can expire after five years.

The thing is, if a business closes before you spend the gift card, it can be very difficult to recover the funds.

If you have a complaint, email dcp.frauds@ct.gov or call 860-713-6100.