SENATE, No. 1928

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 14, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  PAUL A. SARLO

District 36 (Bergen and Passaic)

Senator  FRED H. MADDEN, JR.

District 4 (Camden and Gloucester)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Disengages stored value card escheat prospectively.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act disengaging stored value card escheatment prospectively, amending P.L.2010, c.25, P.L.2002, c.35, and P.L.2002, c.14 and supplementing chapter 30B of Title 46 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 5 of P.L.2010, c.25 (C.46:30B-42.1) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    a.  A stored value card for which there has been no stored value card activity for two years is presumed abandoned.

     Provided however, no stored value card issued on or after the date of enactment of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be presumed abandoned pursuant to this section or presumed abandoned pursuant to any other provisions of the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.

     b.    The proceeds of a stored value card presumed abandoned shall be the value of the card, in money, on the date the stored value card is presumed abandoned.

     c.     An issuer of a stored value card shall obtain the name and address of the purchaser or owner of each stored value card issued or sold and shall, at a minimum, maintain a record of the zip code of the owner or purchaser.

     If the issuer of a stored value card does not have the name and address of the purchaser or owner of the stored value card, the address of the owner or purchaser of the stored value card shall assume the address of the place where the stored value card was purchased or issued and shall be reported to New Jersey if the place of business where the stored value card was sold or issued is located in New Jersey.

     Provided however, no stored value card issued on or after the date of enactment of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be subject to the data collection and maintenance provisions of this subsection or the address assumption and reporting provisions of this subsection.

     d.    Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an issuer from honoring a stored value card, the unredeemed value of which has been reported to the State Treasurer pursuant to R.S.46:30B-1 et seq., and thereafter seeking reimbursement from the State Treasurer pursuant to R.S.46:30B-62.

     e.     [This section] Section 37 of P.L.2002, c.35 (C.46:30B-43.1) does not apply to a stored value card that is distributed by the issuer to a person under a promotional or customer loyalty program or a charitable program for which no monetary or other consideration
has been tendered by the owner and [this] section 37 of P.L.2002, c.35 (C.46:30B-43.1) does not apply to a stored value card issued by any issuer that in the past year sold stored value cards with a face value of $250,000 or less. For purposes of this subsection, sales of stored value cards by businesses that operate either (1) under the same trade name as or under common ownership or control with another business or businesses in the State, or (2) as franchised outlets of a parent business, shall be considered sales by a single issuer.

     f.     The State Treasurer is authorized to grant an exemption from [such provisions] section 37 of P.L.2002, c.35 (C.46:30B-43.1) concerning stored value cards, on such terms and conditions as the State Treasurer may require, for a business or class of businesses that demonstrate good cause to the satisfaction of the State Treasurer. In exercising his discretion pursuant to this [section] subsection, the State Treasurer may consider relevant factors including, but not limited to, the amount of stored value card transactions processed, the technology in place, whether or not stored value cards issued contain a microprocessor chip, magnetic strip, or other means designed to trace and capture information about place and date of purchase, and such other factors as the State Treasurer shall deem relevant.

     g.     Notwithstanding the provisions of this act or any other law to the contrary, for stored value cards subject to presumed abandonment pursuant to this section or any other provisions of the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act only a stored value card which is exempt from the provisions of this act pursuant to subsection e. or f. of this section shall be deemed a gift card or gift certificate for purposes of P.L.2002, c.14 (C.56:8-110 et seq.).

     h.     As used in this section:

     “Stored value card activity” means the purchase or issuance of the stored value card, a transaction executed by the owner that increased or decreased the value of the stored value card, or communication by the owner of the stored value card with the issuer of the stored value card concerning the value of the balance remaining on the stored value card as evidenced by a contemporaneous record prepared by or on behalf of the issuer.

     “Issuer” means an issuer or seller of a stored value card that is a person, retailer, merchant, vendor, provider or business association with the obligations of a holder to accept the stored value card as redeemable for, solely or a combination of, merchandise, services, or cash, and to report and deliver proceeds of the stored value card if abandoned.

(cf: P.L.2010, c.25, s.5)

 

     2.    Section 37 of P.L.2002, c.35 (C.46:30B-43.1) is amended to read as follows:

     37.  Limitation on holder's power to impose charges. A holder of property subject to R.S.46:30B-42, section 5 of P.L.2010, c.25 (C.46:30B-42.1), and R.S.46:30B-43 shall not impose on the property a dormancy charge or fee, abandoned property charge or fee, unclaimed property charge or fee, escheat charge or fee, inactivity charge or fee, or any similar charge, fee or penalty for inactivity with respect to the property.  Neither the property nor an agreement with respect to the property may contain language suggesting that the property may be subject to that kind of charge, fee or penalty for inactivity.

     A stored value card issuer, as defined pursuant to section 5 of P.L.2010, c.25 (C.46:30B-42.1) except as to the obligation to report and deliver the proceeds of an abandoned stored value card, shall be subject to the limits of this section. Provided however, the application of this section is subject to the exemptions provided pursuant to subsections e. and f. of section 5 of P.L.2010, c.25 (C.46:30B-42.1).   If a stored value card is exempt from the application of this section pursuant to subsections e. and f. of section 5 of P.L.2010, c.25 (C.46:30B-42.1) the stored value card shall remain subject to section 1 of P.L.2002, c.14 (C.56:8-110) as provided therein.

     For purposes of a stored value card issuer subject to this section and with respect to stored value cards issued on or after the date of enactment of P.L.    , c.    (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a penalty for inactivity shall be deemed to include an expiration date and is prohibited.

(cf: P.L.2010, c.25, s.6)

 

     3.    Section 1 of P.L.2002, c.14 (C.56:8-110) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a.  A gift certificate or gift card sold after the effective date of this amendatory act shall retain full unused value until presented in exchange for merchandise, or shall have any and all conditions and limitations, as permitted in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this subsection, disclosed to the purchaser of the gift certificate or gift card at the time of purchase as provided in subsection b. of this section.

     (1)   In no case shall a gift certificate or gift card expire within the 24 months immediately following the date of sale.

     (2)   No dormancy fee shall be charged against a gift certificate or a gift card within the 24 months immediately following the date of sale, nor shall one be charged within the 24 months immediately following the most recent activity or transaction in which the certificate or card was used.

     (3)   A dormancy fee charged against a gift certificate or gift card as permitted by this subsection shall not exceed $2.00 per month.

     b.    The terms of any expiration date or dormancy fee applicable to a gift certificate or gift card, as permitted by subsection a. of this section, shall be disclosed to a consumer by:

     (1)   written notice of the expiration date or dormancy fee or both printed in at least 10 point font, on the gift certificate or gift card, or the sales receipt for the certificate or card, or the package for the certificate or card; and

     (2)   written notice, in at least 10 point font, on the gift certificate or gift card, or the sales receipt for the certificate or card, or the package for the certificate or card, of a telephone number which the consumer may call, for information concerning any expiration date or dormancy fee.

     c.     As used in this section:

     "Dormancy fee" means a charge imposed against the unused value of a gift card or gift certificate due to inactivity;

     "Gift card" means a tangible device, whereon is embedded or encoded in an electronic or other format a value issued in exchange for payment, which promises to provide to the bearer merchandise of equal value to the remaining balance of the device. "Gift card" does not include a prepaid telecommunications or technology card, prepaid bank card [or], rewards card or stored value card subject to the application of section 37 of P.L.2002, c.35 (C.46:30B-43.1);

     "Gift certificate" means a written promise given in exchange for payment to provide merchandise in a specified amount or of equal value to the bearer of the certificate.  "Gift certificate" does not include a prepaid telecommunications or technology card, prepaid bank card [or], rewards card or stored value card subject to the application of section 37 of P.L.2002, c.35 (C.46:30B-43.1);

     "Merchandise" means and includes any objects, wares, goods, commodities, services or anything offered, directly or indirectly, to the public for sale;

     "Prepaid bank card" means a general use, prepaid card or other electronic payment device that is issued by a bank or other financial institution, or a licensed money transmitter, in a pre-denominated amount usable at multiple, unaffiliated merchants or at automated teller machines, or both, but shall not include a card issued by a retail merchant;

     "Prepaid telecommunications or technology card" includes, but is not limited to: a prepaid telephone calling card; prepaid technical support card; or prepaid Internet disk distributed to or purchased by a consumer; and

     "Rewards card" means a card or certificate distributed by the issuer to a consumer pursuant to an awards, loyalty, rewards or promotional program, without any money or other consideration or thing of value by the consumer in exchange for the card or certificate.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.254, s.1)


     4.    (New section)  Notwithstanding any provision of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to the contrary, the State Treasurer may adopt immediately upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law such regulations as the State Treasurer deems necessary to implement the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), which regulations shall be effective for a period not to exceed 180 days following the date of enactment of P.L.    , c.    (C.          ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and may thereafter be amended, adopted, or readopted by the State Treasurer in accordance with the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The bill prospectively disengages stored value card (SVC) escheat.  The purpose of this bill is to reduce compliance burdens on businesses while maintaining similar levels of consumer protection.

     As an ancillary component to the State fiscal year 2011 budget, the State enacted P.L.2010, c.25, which authorized the State to escheat unused SVCs after two years of inactivity.  However, the capacity of the State to implement the escheat of SVCs under P.L.2010, c.25 has been subject to significant uncertainty due to extended litigation.  Moreover, certain SVC issuers appear to be considering withdrawal from New Jersey as an SVC marketplace due to a provision in P.L.2010, c.25 that requires businesses to collect and maintain certain data on SVC purchases, including but not limited to the zip code of the purchaser. 

     To address this uncertainty and reduce potential burdens on business, this bill disengages SVC escheat prospectively.  Applicable to SVCs issued on or after the date of enactment, the bill removes SVCs from the ranks of escheatable property.  The bill also renders the data collection provision associated with SVC escheat inapplicable. 

     Though the bill removes SVCs from the ranks of escheatable property, the bill maintains the absolute prohibition on SVC penalties for inactivity for SVCs, not otherwise exempted under current law.  The bill also provides that the existing prohibition on penalties for SVC inactivity explicitly and prospectively includes a prohibition on SVC expiration dates. 

     The bill provides the State Treasurer with emergency regulatory authority to implement the bill.