Prepaid card distributor InComm announced on April 5 that it would pull all of its Vanilla Visa and Vanilla MasterCard products out of retail locations in New Jersey as of June 30. The move follows American Express’ announcement that it would do the same as a result of the state law requiring retailers to collect zip codes whenever gift cards are sold.
As a result of modifications made to State of New Jersey’s unclaimed property laws in 2010 designed to fill a budget shortfall, 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.
The gift card industry and the New Jersey government have been arguing back and forth over whether the law is fair and feasible. There have been court challenges and lobbying, but so far, the State Treasurer seems committed to enacting requirements for retailers to collect the data. Several retailers have said they also would stop selling gift cards in New Jersey stores. A bill has passed the State Assembly repealing the law, but so far has not made it any further in the legislative process.