Democrats Try To Reverse Law That Lets NJ Claim Unused Gift Card Funds

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan

TRENTON –Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Paul Moriarty are promoting legislation to reverse a law that made it easier for the state to claim unused money orders, traveler’s checks and gift cards.

The bill (A-3250) was advanced Monday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It reverses changes governing the state’s treatment of unclaimed property that were made as part of the budget signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in June 2010.

“The governor’s changes aggressively shortened the abandonment periods for money orders and travelers checks and created a state claim on unused gift cards,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “These changes have caused a significant amount of uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike. It was anti-business and anti-consumer. It was the wrong thing to do and must be fixed.”

“The governor’s changes were decidedly anti-consumer and anti-business at a time when we should be protecting both,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “This bill restores sanity to the system and protects the public’s rights to their unclaimed property. The last thing we should do is allow such a terrible law to continue creating uncertainty for consumers and businesses.”

As a component to the state fiscal year 2011 budget proposal, the state’s statutory treatment of unclaimed property was revised, aggressively shortening the periods of abandonment for money orders and travelers checks.

The law also authorized state escheatment of unused stored value cards after a two-year period, though that component was challenged in court.

The Diegnan-Moriarty bill reverses the 2010 changes.

It restores the 15-year abandonment period for travelers checks and the seven-year abandonment period for money orders.

Under the 2010 changes, travelers checks and money orders were subject to a three year abandonment period.

The bill also provides that stored value cards issued on or after the bill’s date of enactment are not subject to state escheatment.

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