ScripSmart offers handy summaries of each state's gift card laws. We also grade those laws from A-F making it easy to compare the consumer friendliness. State law grades are generated by an algorithm and there are several factors included; one of those factors is whether on not a state has specified how gift cards are handled under it's unclaimed property laws.
Clarification Is Needed And Only Fair
I recommend lawmakers touching this area aim to specifically state whether or not gift cards are considered unclaimed property because it's only fair to consumers, gift card issuers and the state treasurer who manages unclaimed property.
I'd also urge them not to consider gift cards are unclaimed property because the nature of the property is one of uncertain ownership. In other words, gift cards are purchased and given to another person and that person may live in a different state which will impact whether or not a gift card should be turned over to the state. Keep in mind, it's the gift card issuer's responsibility to report unclaimed property and hand the balance over to the state.
It was recently brought to my attention there was an error in ScripSmart's summary Oregon Gift Card Law. In short, we were referencing a SB 460 which stated gift cards escheat (balance must be handed over) to the state after 3 years of inactivity. It turns out the bill had not actually passed and I wasn't thrilled about the error.
A big thanks to Keith Dubanevich, who currently serves as Chief of Staff and Special Counsel for the Office of the Attorney General in Oregon. He went above and beyond by taking the time to send me a note to let me know ScripSmart was inaccurate. If you ever see an error on ScripSmart, let us know and we'll quickly have it corrected.
After researching the laws a bit more, it became apparent that gift cards might be considered unclaimed property under Section 98.342 of Oregon's Chapter 98 — Lost, Unclaimed or Abandoned Property; Vehicle Towing. Section 98.342's headline is "Miscellaneous personal property held for another person." In other words, it's a catch all for any other other property. It could definitely be argued gift cards fall under this section and should be turned over to the state as unclaimed property.
However, it could also be argued that the failure to pass SB 460 implied state law makers do not want to consider gift cards as unclaimed property. Yes, it's murky water: but why would there be a bill to specifically consider gift cards as unclaimed property if they were already unclaimed property. Furthermore, why did the motion fail to pass if gift cards are already considered unclaimed property.
In the end, Oregon went from a B grade to a C grade because the do not specify whether or not gift card escheat to the state.
For The Record
Oregon is not the only state who is unclear on this matter and ScripSmart's algorithm looks favorably on those state's which specifically excluded gift card from unclaimed property laws.