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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

December 2, 2014, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Urges Consumers to Read the Fine Print on Gift Cards This Holiday Season

$5.8 Million From Unused Gift Cards Turned Over to the State Last Year

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli urged New Yorkers to read the fine print on gift cards this holiday season for details about fees and expiration dates. Unused gift cards issued by New York corporations are required to be turned over to the Comptroller's office as abandoned property after five years of dormancy. In State Fiscal Year 2013-2014, $5.8 million from gift cards was turned over to the state.

“Last year, my office received nearly $6 million from expired gift cards,” DiNapoli said. “Reading the fine print before purchasing or spending gift cards can help you avoid unnecessary fees and protect your money. If you have old gift cards that you haven’t spent check with my office to see if the money has been turned over as unclaimed funds.”

DiNapoli encouraged New Yorkers to use gift cards within a year of purchase to avoid inactivity fees. While some gift card sellers have done away with inactivity fees, consumers should still ask whether the fees apply when purchasing a gift card.

Under the Federal Credit Card Act of 2009, many types of retail cards sold after August 22, 2010, are not permitted to charge inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months. All terms and conditions for a card must be disclosed directly on the card, and gift cards may not expire within the first five years after purchase.

Since January 1, 2011, New York State has required companies offering rebates to disclose whether those rebates will be issued in the form of a gift card, and whether any fees will apply to those cards. Rebate cards are not all covered by the same rules as regular gift cards, so this disclosure helps consumers to identify the different cards and how they can be used.

Gift cards may have terms and conditions that can decrease the value of the gift card. These include charging:

  • a service fee when the card is purchased;
  • a dormancy fee if the gift card is not used within a certain period of time;
  • a fee to call and check the balance remaining on the card; and
  • a replacement fee for lost or stolen gift cards.

DiNapoli’s office is currently holding more than $13 billion in unclaimed funds from gift cards, uncashed checks, bank accounts, stocks and more. To find out if you are owed money, visit www.osc.state.ny.us.

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