Congressional push for Gift Card Consumer Protection Act

Posted at 5:31 PM, Dec 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-11 17:37:32-05

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Gift cards are a popular item during the holidays, but many of them can have hidden fees and expiration dates.

Now, United States Sen. Bob Casey is leading the push to protect consumers with the Gift Card Consumer Protection Act. 

Gift cards have been the most-requested gift on holiday wish lists for the past five years.

Not only do consumers love them, but retailers do as well. Shoppers spend an average of 20 percent more than the value of the card and then others don’t use them at all.

In fact, more than $41 billion in gift cards went unused between 2005 and 2011.

However, some of those cards are not used because they’ve expired before the shopper got to use them.

That’s why Sen. Casey is supporting a proposed law that would create national rules for gift cards that would end expiration dates and fees for inactivity.

“If you buy a gift card, for example, you pay for it.. So you’re giving the company money and they give you a gift card and you give it to a family member or friend. The idea that that evaporates in a sense in a couple of years doesn’t make any sense,” Sen. Casey said.

The measure would also prevent companies that file for bankruptcy from selling gift cards and require them to accept or honor unredeemed gift cards.

The bill still has to work its way through the Legislature before being voted into law. It’s something Sen. Casey said can’t come soon enough.