7 On Your Side has tips on replacing lost gift cards

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you lose a gift card you can get it replaced. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney has done it before and he joins us now with how you can do it too.

Ninety-three percent of Americans buy gift cards, spending about $100 billion a year. So why do some of us treat these purchases so casually.

We are always told to treat gift cards like cash, but what does that mean? Shelley Hunter is the gift card girlfriend for giftcards.com.

"If you received a card for example, and it had a $20 bill in it, you would not put the card back in the sack, you would take the money out immediately and put it in your wallet," Hunter said,

She's says you need to do the same with gift cards. Each of us, on average, spends $213 a year on gift cards. But when we spend that money we act differently.

Jeremy Ayers is from Sonoma.

Finney: "When you buy a card, do you ever hang on to the receipt?"
Ayers: "No, no."
Finney: "Do you ever write down the numbers?"
Ayers: "No, no, I don't."

He is like most of us, few of us keep the receipts, or write down the card's ID numbers.

Hunter says you need to do both and even suggests taking a photo of the front and back of the card. She says that information is valuable.

"If you do lose a gift card, and you can't physically find it, but you have the number, you can go back to the retailer and say, 'This is the card I am missing, I missing the physical card, but I know the number. If the value on the card hasn't been spent, then they should be able to help you get a replacement card," Shelley said.

Ted Williams is from Petaluma he and his wife buy a lot of gift cards.

"When we get gift cards to give as gifts, we hold on to the receipts, but usually there are other purchases on that," Williams said. "But when people give them they usually don't give you the receipt with it, probably because there are other purchases on there also."

William's advice, purchase gift cards separately from other items and give the receipt along with the card, or at least hang on to it.

Click here for Shelly Hunter;s blog Gift Card Girlfriend.
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