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What do you do with gift cards if the business closes?

Don't throw your gift cards away without weighing your options.

CLEVELAND — Head over to Lure Bistro and Sushi Bar in Willoughby and the sign on the door tells you all you need to know.

"Closed until further notice."

Lure closed unexpectedly as 2019 came to an end. 

Over in Parma, a similar fate has came to Avalon Salon and Day Spa. It's "closed due to staff resignations," according to the sign on the door.

Both businesses have customers who purchased gift cards and certificates for the holidays. One man complained of being out $200.

So what do you do? We got some advice from consumer attorney Dan Myers.

"Contact an attorney, usually that first meeting is going to be free," Myers tells us. "If there's something the attorney can do to help you out because of the laws involved, the attorney's fees may be paid by the company that closed down or the company not honoring the gift card."

Think back to when you bought the gift card. Companies are required to let you know when they're facing financial hardships before doing business with you. 

"They shouldn't be bankrolling or extending out their longevity based on loans from customers when customers don't know that's what's going on," says Myers.

And while it may seem odd, when you buy a gift card, explicitly ask how the company is doing financially. It could benefit you later. 

"If feels weird to ask that, but if they say 'no we're fine, everything's good, we're not closing anytime soon' and they knew they were going to – it changes things." explains Myers. "Now it may be a little closer to fraud. And fraud is harder to wipe away in bankruptcy."

And always pay with a credit card when possible.  Myers says if you purchased the gift certificate or gift card with a credit card, consider contacting your credit card company to see if you can get the charges reversed for it since you're not going to be able to use it. 

RELATED: How to earn money from unwanted gift cards