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Showing posts from August, 2012

5Ws: CFPB to Review State Gift Card Laws

As has been widely noted , the federal  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , which was set up as part of 2010's Dodd-Frank Act , is looking into State unclaimed property laws relating to get cards.  Here is the who, what, where, when and why: Who?   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which opened its doors in 2011, and was created by the 2010  Dodd-Frank Act .  The CFPB is a federal agency which is primarily responsible for (as the name suggests) consumer protection, financial education, and rulemaking relating to consumer finance activities. What?   According to a press release issued by the agency, the CFPB wants to evaluate whether certain state unclaimed property laws relating to get cards are inconsistent with federal law. Specifically, pursuant to the Credit CARD Act of 2009 , most gift and stored value cards are required to be free from expiration for at least 5 years.  In some states, however, the dormancy period for gift cards is a shorter period of 2 to 3 y

Regulation is the Beginning, Not the End

We spend a tremendous amount of time on this blog talking about unclaimed property regulation -- the state and federal laws, agency rules, and office practices that make up the nuts and bolts of the unclaimed property reporting and remittance process.  This, of course, is understandable.  Most of this blog's (dozen or so) readers are involved in unclaimed property from the holder's side (or are my Mom).  Lest we forget, however, the whole point of unclaimed property legislation is (presumably) to get abandoned, unclaimed, or missing funds in the hands of the person to whom that money or property belongs.  The laws and rules regulating the holder community are important of course, but they are merely one step in reuniting owners with their funds.  That reporting and delivery process is, to quote Churchill, "not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." In other words, whether it is done by old fashioned newspape

Lost & Found: WSJ on Life Insurers (Again), Unclaimed Property in Paradise (and Minnesota)

Wall St. Journal Feature on Unclaimed Life Insurance Policies -- For more than a year now, state regulators have been investigating the life insurance industry's unclaimed property practices , including whether those companies were doing enough to determine that life insurance policies had become payable.  That investigation led to a number of audits , settlements , and legislative inquiries .  As an update, Monday's Wall St. Journal had an updating article on state efforts to get more life insurance proceeds paid out.  The article notes that in the absence of a claim, some life insurers are permitted to hold onto death benefit funds until the insured reaches (or would have reached) the age of 95, and cites a state regulator's estimate that insurers are holding more than $1 billion in payable death benefits.  It also gives a great overview of how we got here. Minnesota Governor Blogs on Unclaimed Property  -- According to a  blog post  from the website of  Minnesota Go

States Continue To Set Reunification Records

We have seen a number of new and or reinvigorated efforts by state governments to return unclaimed property to the true owners of that property.  In fact, soon we will run our next installment of " Meet Your Escheator " with Kentucky State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach to talk about Kentucky's unique holder reunification programs.  In the interim, we have more states announcing record amounts returned to owners: In Massachusetts , State Treasurer Steven Grossman announced that the Bay State has returned more than $84 million to residents during Fiscal Year 2012, a 10% increase over last year's return. Out west in Nevada , State Treasurer Kate Marshall announced that her office has returned more than $33 million in the past fiscal year, a new record.

Here We Go Again

Just when you thought it was safe to escheat gift cards in New Jersey . . . . As you may know, New Jersey recently revised its unclaimed property laws relating to gift cards.  In particular, the new legislation provides that retailers generally only have to escheat 60% of the face value of unclaimed gift cards, applies a dormancy period of five years for those items (up from two), and delays enactment of a requirement that card sellers obtain purchaser address information for five years.  That new law settled the long running legislative , judicial , and public relations battles concerning the Garden State's attempts to bring unused gift cards into the scope of the state unclaimed property act. Or did it?  On July 30, New Jersey Assemblyman  Paul D. Moriarty , chairman of the Assembly Consumer Affairs committee, introduced  Assembly Bill 3189 , which would completely remove stored value cards from the scope of the NJ Unclaimed Property Act.  As reported previously by  NJ Biz