New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed into law an amendment to the state’s unclaimed property law—S.B. 2235—that eliminated its consumer data collection requirements. In doing so, Governor Christie relieved a significant administrative burden on retailers and issuers of gift cards (also known as stored value cards). State law previously required any such companies operating in New Jersey to maintain records of all gift card purchasers’ ZIP codes, and to collect purchasers’ names and addresses. Governor Christie signed the bill on February 5, 2015.

Specifically, five years ago, New Jersey began requiring that unredeemed gift card balances escheat to the state after two years of inactivity. The state also required gift card retailers and issuers to collect certain customer data. Gift card retailers and merchant associations objected to the administrative costs the law imposed and questioned the revenue benefits to the state.

In response, New Jersey enacted another law—S.B. 1928—delaying the consumer data reporting requirements until July 1, 2016, and reducing the amount of unused balances that escheated to 60 percent. Now, with S.B. 2235, gift card retailers and issuers no longer have to worry about collecting consumer data from purchasers. Businesses planning for S.B. 1928’s implementation should review those plans in view of the more recent S.B. 2235.

In addition to eliminating the administrative data collection burden, S.B. 2235 eliminates a potentially contradictory data collection obligation imposed on gift card retailers. New Jersey law bars retailers from collecting and recording a customer’s “personal identification information,” including addresses, when conducting credit card transactions. S.B. 1928, at least when customers used credit cards to purchase gift cards, arguably required retailers to violate this specific provision of the law. With S.B. 2235, that contradictory obligation disappears.

Ballard Spahr’s Consumer Financial Services Group is nationally recognized for its guidance in structuring and documenting new consumer financial services products, its experience with the full range of federal and state consumer credit laws, and its skill in litigation defense and avoidance.

For more information, please contact CFS Practice Leader Alan S. Kaplinsky at 215.864.8544 or kaplinsky@ballardspahr.com or Stefanie H. Jackman at 678.420.9490 or jackmans@ballardspahr.com.


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