Gift cards or certificates from restaurants to clothing stores are available as an option to give to your family and friends this holiday. Debra Moore of the Consumer Protection Division Iowa Attorney General’s Office says to be sure and know what you choose this option. She says find out what the return is if someone uses a gift card and doesn’t spend the full amount. Moore says find out if they get a credit back or cash back. She says stores aren’t required to give you cash for the unused balance on the cards. One drawback to gift cards is that people sometimes forget about them and let the balances go unused. She says they advise consumers to be reasonable and not throw the card in a drawer and not use it for a long period of time — as that can mess up the books of a store. Moore says you should be responsible and use the gift card in a reasonable period of time. If you don’t use all the balance of a gift card, under Iowa law the store is required to list the balance with the state treasurer as unclaimed property. You can then claim the balance after three years.
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