Square In The Middle) – New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has a few words of wisdom for anyone who received a gift card as a present this holiday season: Use it.
If a New York resident fails to use the funds on a gift card, the balance could end up in DiNapoli’s office, which is responsible for the state’s unclaimed funds database. An all-time high of $48 million was brought into the state in just the past year.
A growing percentage of the accounts housed by our Office of Unclaimed Funds are gift cards that have gone unused. It is the goal of my office to return these funds to their rightful owners,” DiNapoli said.
To avoid inactivity fees or having the funds turned over to my office, I urge all New Yorkers to use their gift cards as soon as possible this holiday season.
Two companies contributed nearly half of the money to DiNapoli’s campaign. As part of a settlement, H&M gave back around $18 million to the state. In yet another settlement, Apple paid the state nearly $3 million in unused funds.
Last month, New York passed a law that makes it illegal to sell or give away a gift card balance. The new law gives cardholders nine years to use their gift card balance or face a fine. The original expiration period for gift cards was five years.
Some card fees have been eliminated under the new law, but according to DiNapoli, his office is still required to collect any funds remaining on a card that has expired.
Even if the card hasn’t yet expired, the cash will be turned over to the state after five years of inactivity under the state’s Abandoned Property Law.
The state of New York’s Office of Unclaimed Funds is now holding $17.5 billion in funds that are due to citizens but have gone unclaimed. In 2022, it paid out $405.9 million in claims.
People can use the office’s searchable database to see if they qualify to receive any of the available funds.