Michelle E. Arnold
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On June 29, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law legislation amending New Jersey's unclaimed property law relating to the escheat of abandoned stored value cards (SVCs) to the state. Under the original unclaimed property law, which took effect July 1, 2010, SVCs that were inactive for two years were presumed abandoned, and New Jersey required that the monetary value associated with the inactive cards be escheated to the state. Additionally, SVC issuers were required to (a) "obtain" the name and address of each card owner or purchaser, and (b) "at a minimum, maintain a record of the zip code of the owner or purchaser" of each SVC. Under the amended law, SVCs are presumed abandoned after five years of inactivity (as opposed to two years), and SVC issuers have a forty-eight month grace period before they are required to collect the names, addresses, and zip codes of SVC owners or purchasers. Issuers that do not collect purchasers' names and addresses in the normal course of business or during a card-registration process are exempted from collecting purchasers' names and addresses under the law, but they are still required to collect and maintain purchasers' zip codes.
It should be noted that the unclaimed property law potentially conflicts with a separate New Jersey law protecting the personal information of credit card holders (N.J. Stat. § 56:11-17 (2012)). That law makes it unlawful for any person to require the disclosure of any personal identification information from a credit card holder that is not required to complete the transaction as a condition of allowing the card holder to use the credit card to complete the transaction. While we await the resolution of this potential conflict, courts may rule that no conflict exists: § 56:11-17 only addresses credit card use, but the state's unclaimed property law makes no distinction between payment methods (and, therefore, doesn't condition the use of a credit card on the collection of personal information).
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