The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 19, 2012

State treasurer: Unclaimed property ‘stockings’ could hold gift cards

As shoppers prepare for Black Friday, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel is reminding Missourians to keep their expired gift cards and certificates because in Missouri, they never really expire and they just might become unclaimed property.

“More and more, shoppers are purchasing gift cards and certificates for their loved ones and it is important to remember that even if that piece of paper or plastic doesn’t get used by the expiration date, it could be unclaimed property,” Zweifel said in a prepared statement.

“I have nearly $6.2 million in unclaimed property made up of unused gift cards and certificates. This year my unclaimed property staff has returned more than $107,000 from expired gift cards or certificates. Remember, the average unclaimed property account returned is $300 — money that would come in handy for all of us this holiday season.”

If Missourians believe their expired gift card may have become unclaimed property, they should first check with the business that the unused gift card originally was from to see if it is redeemable.

If the business will not redeem the card or certificate, owners should then check www.ShowMeMoney.com to see if their name is listed. If the owner’s name is not listed on the website and he has a gift card or certificate with value a business will not redeem, the card owner should email Zweifel’s office at unclaimedproperty@treasurer.mo.gov.

Not all credit from gift cards and certificates is turned over with account owner contact information, so having the physical card or certificate may help an individual claim the property.

Zweifel, in a telephone interview Monday, said: “Any property dormant for five years or more should be sent to us as unclaimed property. Technically, it is revenue that should be turned over to us by the business to return to the taxpayers.”

Zweifel said consumers should make copies of their gift certificates and gift cards if they choose to not use them immediately.

“One thing we have found as gift cards become more and more popular is that individuals often set them aside, and then think they can’t use them because of their expiration date,” he said.

“First of all, we recommend you use gift cards right way. But, if you do plan on holding onto it, make a copy of the card and the account number of the card, so that you have proof that the card was in your possession.”

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