InComm Removing Gift Cards from New Jersey

Unclaimed property law prompts action

Published in CSP Daily News

ATLANTA -- In response to New Jersey's unclaimed property law designed to fill a budget shortfall, InComm, a leading prepaid product and transaction services company, has joined Blackhawk Network and American Express in announcing that it is removing its gift card mall program from more than 2,500 retail locations in New Jersey, effective June 30.

These retail locations include the nation's leading big box, pharmacy, discount, convenience and grocery chains.

Incomm's gift card mall program includes gift cards such as iTunes, Macy's, Chili's, Maggiano's, Subway, Lord & Taylor and more.

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The company also announced the removal of its Vanilla Visa Gift Card and Vanilla MasterCard Gift Card products from the state. With the additional removal of the gift card mall, gift card kiosks or "destinations" offering multiple brands of gift cards will no longer be available to consumers in New Jersey stores.

These actions are in response to the 2010 modifications to New Jersey's unclaimed property law which were designed to fill a budget shortfall, the company said. As a result, retailers selling gift cards will now have to capture a gift card purchaser's personal information (which may include name, address and/or zip code) at the point of sale. This information will then be kept by card issuers and is reportable to the state. After two years of inactivity, New Jersey will automatically take the unspent money, even if the card has not expired.

A recent third-party survey of approximately 700 New Jersey residents showed that 89.7% do not want the new law to go into effect; 94.3% do not want to lose the ability to purchase gift cards in the state; 90.9% do not want to provide personal information when purchasing gift cards.

"Because InComm is unable on behalf of its third-party gift card partners to ensure compliance with this law, we unfortunately have no choice but to remove all our gift cards and gift card destinations from retail locations in the state of New Jersey," said Brooks Smith, president and CEO of InComm. "As always, we are committed to providing the best possible products and services to our retail and brand partners and ease of use of these products for consumers, and we regret that this new law keeps us from doing business in New Jersey."

He added, "In addition to the compliance issues this law creates, we are very concerned that our New Jersey consumers will not have continued access to their gift card funds. States should not have the right to remove funds from an unexpired gift card."

Under federal law, gift cards cannot expire earlier than five years after purchase, and in fact most gift card funds never expire. In spite of such broad federal protection, consumers who purchase gift cards in New Jersey will be deprived of the value of those cards after two years of non-use.

Atlanta-based InComm is a leading provider of cutting-edge prepaid products, services and transaction technologies to retailers, brands and consumers. It supports more than 250,000 retail locations in building prepaid card destinations, connects brands with new markets and gives consumers a simple, secure shopping experience.