Be aware of store closings, expiration dates when purchasing gift cards

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You may be giving or receiving gift cards this holiday season, but there are a few things you need to know. 

Store closings and card expiration dates can all have an impact on your use of a gift card. 

Federal law requires gift cards to be good for five years from the purchase date, and Massachusetts law requires cards to be good for at least seven years. But, according to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs, a card you purchased in Massachusetts, may be held to the laws of another state.

So it’s important to read the fine print. Gift cards can also come with fees that eat away the card’s value; things like inactivity, activation, or transactions.    

One man we spoke with said it’s important to put some thought into which gift card you buy. 

“They don’t think about that, they don’t worry about that,” said Cornald Rickord of Springfield. “All they think about is the gift card to get someone for Christmas. How are they going to know if a store is going to file for bankruptcy? It just happens, right?”

When stores and restaurants file for bankruptcy protection, gift cards can become useless.

But the courts allow some of these companies to continue to accept them for a limited amount of time. 

For stores like Toys R Us that have recently closed, there are ways to file a claim if you did not use a gift card in time. 

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