Albany, New York Assemblyman David I. Weprin has introduced new legislation to increase consumer protections for gift card users. Weprins bill, A6572, would make it unlawful for any entity to sell a gift certificate to a purchaser with an expiration date or a service fee, unless the consumer is properly notified. In addition, sellers are required to redeem gift certificate with a balance of ten dollars or less for cash at the consumers request.
Gift cards are popular among consumers. A survey conducted in 2016 by the National Retail Federation, found that more than 60% of people wanted a gift card as a holiday gift. In 2015, gift card spending was clocked in at $130 billion. However in that year $970 million in gift card funds went unused and since 2005, $45.7 billion in unredeemed gift card funds has accumulated nationwide. That money may never be used if the gift cards are lost or accidentally thrown away.
Under existing State law, expiration dates and fees can still be charged along with other terms and conditions as long as they are clearly and conspicuously stated on the cards, package or accompanying printed document. In 2009 under the Federal Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act consumers were given several gift cards protections, including limits on expiration dates and service fees. Money on store-issued and bank-issued gift cards cannot expire before five years from the date of purchase or when money was last loaded onto the card and inactivity fees are prohibited unless cards have not been used in 12 months.
This bill will enhance protection for consumers in ways many other states have already done by prohibiting expiration dates and service fees in certain situations and require retailers to provide cash for gift cards when values drop below ten dollars. Weprins bill will help consumers keep money that they are entitled to.
No one should be charged for excessive fees to access their own money and consumers should be able to use the full amount of their gift cards, said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. With this new bill, gift card owners in New York will gain much needed consumer protections.