Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Jersey Grants Temporary Gift Card Repreive

As we noted earlier, New Jersey enacted legislation earlier this summer that explicitly applies the state unclaimed property laws to stored value cards (i.e., gift cards).  Under the new law, gift card issuers are required to report and remit balances for cards belonging to New Jersey residents that have been inactive for more than 2 years.  Of course, most gift card issuers do not obtain or retain address information for a gift card purchaser.  Consequently, most items were escheated, if at all, to the owner's state of incorporation. 

New Jersey sought to address this issue by requiring issuers to obtain name and address information for the gift card owner or purchaser.  The legislation was effective as of July 1, 2010, but explicitly made retroactive.  This provision was notable not only for its affect on unclaimed property administration, but because it also represented a change in the way most issuers do business.  Many (if not most) gift card issuers do not collect purchaser name and address information, and it is unclear how purchasers will react to being asked for this information at checkout.  Moreover, given the advent of "gift card malls" and similar methods, there are many instances where the gift card "issuer" (as defined in the Act) is not a party to the retail transaction. 

Perhaps in light of these concerns, the New Jersey Treasurer's Office recently announced that it is temporarily exempting stored value card issuers from the name and address requirements until October 1, 2010, "pending further review of current processes, technologies, and reporting practices and the subsequent development of specific industry guidance."

The announcement from the New Jersey Treasury can be found here.

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