A recent survey claims that over 50 percent of Americans said they would like to get a gift card this holiday season. Gift cards now exceed the popularity of clothing and electronics as gifts.

However, if you plan to purchase a gift card for family or friends this year, there a few things you may need to know.

Arkansas was ahead of the curve in protecting consumers against fraudulent practices associated with some of the fine print in some gift card purchases.

The 86th General Assembly passed the Fair Gift Card Act in 2007. This act ensured that gift cards could not expire until two years after the purchase date. Since that time, the federal government has passed stricter regulations. Now gift cards cannot expire until at least five years after the date of purchase. Today, state and federal law require that expiration dates on gift cards must be disclosed. No inactivity fees may be assessed on the card unless it has been inactive for two years. And if there are fees associated with the card, they must be clearly disclosed on the card or the packaging.

Although you may have time before it expires, it is still recommended to use the card as soon as possible. It’s estimated in 2012, more than $2 billion in money loaded onto gift cards went unredeemed.

The Arkansas attorney general’s office also recommends purchasing gift cards from a trusted business. And in an effort to protect consumers from purchasing counterfeit or fraudulently obtained cards, the office warns against purchasing cards from internet auction sites.

The General Assembly continues to work with the Attorney General’s office to ensure consumers are protected. In the meantime, if you have a problem with a gift card purchase or concerns about consumer issues this holiday season visit www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.