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Possible Hidden Treasure Inside Old, Unused Gift Cards

With the holiday season just around the corner, many shoppers like to purchase gift cards or gift certificates for their loved ones. Yet many times those cards don’t get used before they expire. According to the Missouri State Treasurer’s office, since January of this year, as much as $60,000 in unused gift cards have been refunded to the card holder. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more.

For many people, once they receive a gift card, they can’t wait to spend it. However, others hold onto gift cards and they may be forgotten until they think the cards no longer have value. Clint Zweifel is the state treasurer for Missouri. He says that no matter how old an unused gift card is, don’t throw it away.

“One in ten Missourians actually have unclaimed property in our state. The average account is $365 dollars in value, and it comes across many shapes and sizes. It could be traditional means like safety deposit boxes, old life insurance policies, and escrow accounts. But gift cards, as you know, have become so much more popular. Especially during the holiday season,” Zweifel said.

Zweifel says that anyone who has an unused gift card should first check with the merchant to see if they will honor it, even if it’s expired. If not, he says that Missourians should check the state treasurer’s website, or call his office. That’s because when a gift card expires, all merchants are required to hand over any remaining value to the treasurer’s office after five years.

Zweifel says gift cards, as well as many debit or rebate cards, are not always listed under a person’s name. That’s why he says it’s important to have a record of the card’s account number.

“Two main pieces of advice for the gift cards. First, don’t lose the gift card and keep it in a safe spot. But also if you really want to prevent something from happening, take time, make a copy of the gift card and put it in a safe spot. This way you have backup and proof that you had that gift card,” said Zweifel.

Gift cards accounts, like all unclaimed property, are held by the treasurer’s office until claimed by the account bearer, or their heirs. Below is a link to more information. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.

Click here to go to the Missouri State Treasurer Website