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Sree Tips: Electronic Gift Certificates

Sree Sreenivasan (credit: CBS2)

Sree Sreenivasan (credit: CBS2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Less than a week before Christmas, one gift many of us could get this season is an e-mail gift certificate. But there are some important things you need to know first.

Sree Sreenivasan, of our partner CNET and Columbia University’s chief digital officer, joined us with that Wednesday morning.

The best part of electronic gift certificates is that they can be e-mailed as late as Christmas morning. But each year, $1.7 billion in gift cards goes unspent. People forget about it and if it sits too long, many lose their value.

So if you are giving or getting one of these e-certificates, you need to be careful and you need to keep track of it.

You can send them directly from a site, or you can have them sent to you and then you can e-mail them to your gift recipient. Either way, make sure you keep a list of them.

Also, follow up with the recipient. Yes, it might be a little tacky, but we are talking about real money here.

Giftcertificates.com allows you to buy gift certificates from hundreds of brand-name stores, but they also have so-called “super certificates,” which you can get via e-mail so your giftee can choose the store he or she likes.

At amazon.com, you can send an e-mail card or make a really fun video card, personalized with info from Facebook. You can check those out at amazon.com/giftcards

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Sree Sreenivasan is CBS2′s technology expert, appearing every Wednesday morning at 6:50 am to discuss ways to save you time, money and aggravation. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook  and on his personal siteE-mail your questions with “CBS New York” as the subject line.