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'Tis the Season to Get Cheated: Gift Cards Fleece Consumers

Most people think of gift cards as akin to cash. After all, they are paid for up front. But a recent study by found that some gift cards come laden with unethical and deceptive fees. For example, gift cards issued by top banks -- including Chase Visa and U.S. Bank -- start charging a $2.50 fee every month if you don't use up the card in the first year. 

There are also fees attached to buying gift cards, in effect making consumers pay for the privilege of spending money on the card. These fees can range up to $5. Some gift cards even deduct funds from the card if a consumer calls up to find out the balance. 

Congress passed new rules last year to stop consumers from getting gouged by gift card issuers, but there are still loopholes. 

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