Gift cards

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Buying and using gift cards

You might enjoy having the option to buy and give gift cards, offered by some retailers today. There are many different kinds of cards including those for individual stores, for a chain of franchises, for various stores in a mall or even credit card gift cards.

While you might love gift cards for their convenience, you should be aware of the terms and conditions that accompany most gift cards.

For more information on their uses and regulations, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Gift cards web page.

Gift card fraud

Most companies let you check your remaining gift card balance online, but scammers may try to steal that information by sending spam emails or creating fake websites. If a website or email is fake, keep in mind that the contact information on the site or in the email is likely phony as well.

Quick tips to protect yourself from gift card fraud:

  • Never click on links found in pop-up boxes or suspicious emails.
  • Look on the back of the gift card or use a search engine to find the official company website to check your gift card balance.
  • Contact the company directly by calling the number on the gift card.

Beware of gift card scams

Government of Canada organizations—like the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)—will never request immediate payments in the form of retailer gift cards.

Beyond this, you should be alert if a business or private organization requests you make a payment by gift card. Gift cards offer little protection as a form of payment.

In the case of a refund or exchange, a frequent practice is for the business or organization to issue you a gift card to use as store credit if you are returning an item previously purchased at that store.

For information on spotting and reporting gift card scams from fraudsters claiming to work for the Government of Canada, visit the Scam prevention and the CRA web page on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Trusted consumer information

Published by the Consumer Measures Committee, a working group of federal, provincial and territorial governments, that helps educate and inform Canadian consumers.