States Seizing Unused Gift Card Balances For Revenue

06.30.09 | FL News Team

Americans who leave gift cards laying around unused may find their state has used the cash value of them.  "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting several states are labeling gift cards that go unused for as little as two years "abandoned property" and are taking the money.  Those gift cards are a pile of gold.  Every year, Americans spend roughly 65-billion dollars on prepaid gift cards.  But some six-point-eight-billion dollars of that is never redeemed.  

Some states, like Texas, have even tried passing laws allowing them to collect money from cards with no expiration date.  Eric Hausman, a spokesman for Target Corporation says "one of the benefits of offering gift cards (that) never expire is that it affords the guest the opportunity to use them at any time."  While the Lone Star State legislation has stalled, he says some states are now considering a requirement imposing an expiration date on all gift cards.

States that haven't already gotten into the act are working on it.  South Carolina is currently considering legislation that would allow collection of unclaimed gift card credits.  New York state lined its coffers with nine-point-six-million dollars in unredeemed gift cards last year alone.