Shoppers are being warned to exercise caution when purchasing gift cards.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says New Yorkers should read the fine print on cards for details on fees and expiration dates while law enforcement officials say purchasers should be careful to select cards located near checkouts and possibly choose from the back of the rack to avoid getting a card that has had its activation information compromised.

Police say it’s not uncommon for criminals to partially record identifying information on unpurchased cards then use them once the cards are activated by a buyer.

Meanwhile, DiNapoli says every year people getting gift cards end up losing out by not making purchases on time.  Money from unused gift cards issued by New York businesses is turned over to the Comptroller’s office as abandoned property after five years of dormancy.  In the last fiscal year, over $11.6 million from gift cards was turned over to the Abandoned Property Fund.

In addition to not using cards in time, the Comptroller says there could be service fees when a card is purchased, fees to check balances and charges for replacement of lost or stolen cards.