What would be even worse than losing the entire stored value of your gift cards after a few years? Having the state seize it as unclaimed property and use your money to pay its bills.
Yet a law was enacted back in July in New Jersey that would have done just that. Changes to the state’s Uniform Unclaimed Property Act meant that the state could seize the value of gift cards and traveler’s checks after they were dormant for two years. Worse still: the law is retroactive.
One key problem for retailers is that not all systems track purchasers’ ZIP codes, which is key information when determining which gift card balances the state is allowed to take.
Prominent gift card and traveler’s check purveyors (that is, the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, New Jersey Food Council, and American Express) filed suit to block the law in federal court. They won. The state plans to appeal, which shows that there must be a lot of money at stake here to risk annoying voters that much.
N.J. pressing fight to seize gift card funds [Bergen Record] (Thanks, Kevin!)