Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Americans are expected to spend $100 billion dollars on gift cards this year. The National Retail Federation says eight out of ten people will give a gift card this holiday season. But watch out, thieves have also tapped into this growing market.
Best Buy Manager Michael Krawczyk has seen tons of last minute customers buying gift cards.
"Especially this last week, you see a lot of people coming in just getting gift cards because they can't think of anything else to get," he said.
But shoppers aren't the only ones circling the gift card display. Scammers are too.
"Thieves will actually pick up cards in a store, take the information down and then later activate that information purchase. You've then bought the card, and find you can't activate it, it's already been activated," Syracuse University Assistant Professor Amanda Nicholson said.
Nicholson suggests asking for a card that has not been on display yet.
If you do buy a gift card that's on the floor, make sure it hasn't been tampered with. Most cards have an area on the back that needs to be scratched off before it’s activated. Be sure it hasn’t already been scratched off.
Keep in mind too, Federal laws don’t protect all types of cards, so your card could lose some value over time, and if a store closes, your card could lose its value.
"The most important thing is to remember that gift cards were never designed to be savings products. What you want to do, as soon as possible, is spend it," explained Tower Group Senior Research Director Brian Riley.
The research group expects the sale of gift cards to grow exponentially throughout the next decade.
The researcher from Tower Group told us e-gift cards are the fastest growing type of gift card. You can order them online and they can be product specific, like a gift card for a chocolate sundae from your favorite ice cream store.
New York Senator Charles Schumer has asked the National Retail Federation to push stores to better protect gift cards
from scammers by keeping them behind store counters.
Financial advisor Rick Reagan suggests people don't buy gift cards at all, but instead stick to cash.