N.J.lawmakers may prevent state from cashing in on unused gft cards

The New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill that would prevent the state from taking the money from unused gift cards.

The measure would reverse changes made in 2010 to New Jersey’s unclaimed property law. If a gift card goes unused for two years, the state can claim the balance.

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex, says card holders should get to keep what’s theirs.

“If I buy a gift card from you, it’s not the state of New Jersey’s money,” Diegnan said. “It’s your money and if you are not diligent enough to redeem it within a year well then that’s your choice, but the state shouldn’t be taking that money and using it to balance the state budget.”

The legislation also would eliminate a requirement for retailers to collect ZIP code information when someone buys a gift card. That procedure has been on hold because of a legal challenge.

Retailers say if that were to take effect, some New Jersey merchants would stop issuing gift cards.

Association president John Holub says it puts a burden on retailers.

“Our point of sales systems don’t support that kind of information to store it, attach it to the card that sold, and then track that information,” said John Holub president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association. “So, administratively, it’s extremely burdensome,”

Holub said he hopes the New Jersey Senate will also approve the legislation this session, but it’s not clear when it might be considered in that house.

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