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No More Gift Card Seizures? Assembly Votes To Repeal Gov’s Escheat Mandate [AUDIO]

As part of the budget signed into law by Governor Chris Christie in June 2010 the state can lay claim to the proceeds of unused gift card, money orders and/or traveler’s checks.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

A bill sponsored by Assembly Democratic lawmakers Pat Diegnan, Paul Moriarty and Gordon Johnson to reverse the Christie administration’s law governing state treatment of unclaimed property has been approved by the full Assembly and awaits action in the State Senate.

“The Governor’s changes aggressively shortened the abandonment periods for money orders and travelers checks and created a state claim on unused stored value cards,” says Diegnan. “These changes have caused a significant amount of uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike.”

Under Governor Chris Christie’s original plan, the state can claim proceeds of gift cards purchased in New Jersey if customers don’t use them within two years. Funds from inactive travelers’ checks and money orders after three years can also be claimed by the state.

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The bill approved by the Assembly would remove all references and the operative section for the state’s claim on certain unused stored value cards. It would also re-enact the 15-year abandonment period for traveler’s checks and the seven year abandonment period for money orders, both of which were changed to 3 years.

Moriarty explains, “The Governor’s changes were decidedly anti-consumer and anti-business at a time when we should be protecting both. This bill restores sanity to the system and protects the public’s rights to unclaimed property.”

The legislation also the grants the state treasurer emergency regulatory authority to implement this act and to reimburse issuers that reported unclaimed property under the recent 2010 changes, which would not have been due reportable otherwise.

“The last thing businesses and consumers needs right now is laws targeting them,” says Johnson. “We should be promoting businesses and protecting consumers, not going after them, especially in this difficult economy.”

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