TDCI: Be a Savvy Consumer this Valentine’s Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 | 12:30pm

NASHVILLE – With many consumers rushing to find last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts for the February 14th holiday, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs offers a few tips to help shoppers make smart purchases and avoid common fraud tactics such as the iTunes gift card scam.

“The Division of Consumer Affairs strives to empower and protect consumers doing business in Tennessee,” said TDCI Consumer Protection Director Cynthia Wiel. “By staying informed of the latest scams and knowing the specific terms of your purchase, you can help ensure your hard-earned money is used as intended this Valentine’s Day.”

The Division warns Tennesseans of the increasingly common gift card scam in which heartless con artists pose as an online love interest or family member in a bind. The consumer is persuaded to purchase an iTunes gift card and provide the scammer with the redeemable code on the back of the card. This scam is a choice method for criminals because it provides an easy and untraceable way for them to get your money.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, consumers should remember that iTunes gift cards are solely for the purchase of goods and services on the iTunes Store and App Store. Consumers who receive a request for payment using iTunes gift cards outside of iTunes and the App Store should report it to the Federal Trade Commission at

The Division of Consumer Affairs also offers a few helpful tips for consumers who are considering purchasing gift certificates or discounted services for Valentine’s Day.

When you are sold a gift certificate in the State of Tennessee, remember:

  • In general, the expiration date must be at least two years after the date it was issued to you.
    You should not be charged a fee for the gift certificate to be issued to you.
  • Within two years of purchasing the gift certificate, you should not be charged service fees (including dormancy fees, latency fees, or administrative fees) that reduce the total value of the gift certificate.                                                                
  • A gift certificate does not include prepaid cards.
  • As always with shopping, be aware of return policies which are typically displayed in the store, on the receipts or on the businesses website.                                                   
  • Be sure to ask about the locations where the gift certificate(s) can be redeemed.
  • Inquire about the terms and conditions associated with purchasing and redeeming the gift certificate(s).

Websites like Groupon or Living Social are commonly used to purchase discounted services as gifts. Those services might include a free or discounted hair-styling, manicure, or pedicure. Before purchasing a discounted service, call the company or individual offering the discount to ensure the offer is legitimate.

Remember these tips when you visit a hair salon or nail salon to redeem your gift certificate or discount for services:

  • A manager or managing owner must be on site when the shop is open for business.
  • Everyone providing a service must have an active license at all times.
  • Instruments must be sanitized after every use.
  • Footbaths must be cleaned and disinfected after every use.
  • In every shop, a current Tennessee license and graded inspection sheet should be posted for the public to view.
  • Visit  to ensure the individual or company is properly licensed to operate in the State of Tennessee.
  • Visit  for more regulation information from the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners.

For more consumer tips, or to file a complaint, contact the TDCI Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-342-8385 or visit