Spend Those Gift Cards, State Comptroller Says

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli wants residents to spend any gift cards they received this holiday season. Unused gift card balances can eventually be turned over to his Office of Unclaimed Funds, which took in a record $48 million from them in 2022.

“Unused gift cards have set a new record, as they make up a growing number of the accounts being held by our Office of Unclaimed Funds. My office is working to get these funds back in the hands of their rightful owners,” DiNapoli said. “This holiday season I encourage all New Yorkers to spend their gift cards in a timely manner to avoid possible inactivity fees or having the money turned over to my office.”

The record high amount of unused gift cards turned over to OUF in 2022 was attributed in part to a settlement which required H&M to return approximately $18 million dollars’ worth of unused gift card balances to OUF. In a similar settlement, Apple turned over almost $3 million in unused gift card balances.

State law involving gift card expiration dates and fees  changed this year to extend the expiration date for gift cards  from five to nine years after the card was issued or the date on which funds were last loaded. It also prohibited many fees. Despite the change, the NYS Abandoned Property Law remains unchanged – gift cards and certificates owed to New York residents, or to unknown owners but issued by an entity incorporated in New York, are deemed abandoned and reportable to OUF after five years of inactivity, regardless of expiration date.

DiNapoli urges recipients to read the fine print for details about the fees and expiration dates on any cards they receive and to register the card with the retailer.

DiNapoli’s office is holding more than $17.5 billion in unclaimed funds. He urges New Yorkers to visit his Unclaimed Funds search portal to see if they are owed money.

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