Unclaimed Property Laws -- Something for Everyone

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Unclaimed property laws, which vary from state to state, cover everything from dormant savings and checking accounts, to safe deposit box contents, and unclaimed security deposits. They also govern how stores should handle the funds they hold for unused gift certificates and gift cards.

Givex, Book Sense's partner in the gift card program, has provided a link to a Web site, www.kantrowitz.com/kantrowitz/uncl-prop.html, put together by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid and president of MK Consulting, Inc., which provides valuable information about unclaimed property laws, including addresses and links to many state treasury Web pages.

"Regardless of whether booksellers sell gift cards or gift certificates, they need to be educated about unclaimed property laws," said ABA Marketing Director Jill Perlstein, who also pointed out that, although gift card sellers do have to be knowledgeable about unclaimed property laws, the Book Sense Gift Card Program gives booksellers the ability to track all sales and redemptions on a daily basis via a variety of reports, making it easier to maintain the proper records required by most states.

"Booksellers should be aware of tightened regulations regarding the use of money spent by consumers on gift cards and gift certificates," said Perlstein. "Many states have become very aggressive in enforcing unclaimed property laws, which includes the money paid by consumers for a gift certificate or gift card, but unused for merchandise.

"I also suggest that this information be brought to the attention of the bookstore's bookkeeper or accountant."