THOUSANDS of people are stuffing vouchers and gift cards into drawers – and then forgetting to cash them in.
New research has uncovered evidence that almost half of consumers have lost out by letting vouchers expire before they even bought goods with them.
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has commissioned research that shows one in two consumers are set to buy vouchers as Christmas gifts.
But the survey of 1,000 adults also found that half of all vouchers will never be cashed in.
The research found large numbers of people also failing to check the conditions of use.
Head of the NCA Karen O'Leary said vouchers were one of the most popular choices for Christmas shoppers.
But she warned consumers to check the expiry dates, as these vary from shop to shop.
"If you get a gift voucher or card for Christmas, check the expiry date and terms and conditions of use and ask the gift giver when they bought it. Then make a plan to spend the voucher as soon as you can."
Ms O'Leary said the NCA's research found most shoppers do not know what their rights are if a retailer goes out of business.
If a retailer goes bust then a consumer with a voucher becomes an unsecured creditor – they will rank behind the staff and the Revenue Commissioners in the pecking order if there are any spare funds to be distributed.
Research from Millward Brown showed almost 250,000 consumers have suffered financial loss as a result of purchasing goods and services where the supplier went out of business. On average, the financial loss was €170.