As the holiday season approaches many a shopper’s mind turns to . . . gift certificates.

Many businesses enjoy issuing gift certificates for people to buy as gifts for both the assured spending that will occur at their store. The certificates also create goodwill and are advertisements for their business. Gift cards and certificates are a $100 billion dollar industry and a boon to retailers.

Businesses need to beware however that gift certificates can bring them unwanted gifts – like a lawsuit.

Under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, gift certificates must now be good for at least five years from the date of purchase. There are several other regulations that now affect the treatment of gift cards by businesses. Failure to comply with any of them can result in a lawsuit against the company with more than the value of the gift certificate at stake.  There are also federal regulations that can also affect the gift certificates you issue.

Having an attorney ensure that your gift certificates comply with both Federal and Michigan law is a smart move before you begin your retail gift card season.