by Jay Scherder
3:15 PM CST, January 11, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- Did you get a gift card for the holidays this year? If so have you used it or is it sitting in a drawer somewhere? Turns out millions of Americans leave billions of dollars every year on unused gift cards.
Once again gift cards were the most requested holiday gift in 2011 according to the National Retail Federation--marking the fifth year in a row gift cards have topped consumers' wish lists.
Often times those cards get forgotten. "These gift cards it's easy for us in the hustle and bustle of the holidays with kids and what not to set these aside and forget about them or use part of them and forget to use the rest," said Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel.
According to NPR and the TowerGroup research firm about $41 billion has gone unclaimed on gift cards since 2005.
"Gift cards and gift certificates I've returned about $130,000 since January 2011," said Treasurer Zweifel, "we still have $5.8 million waiting."
By law, says Treasurer Zweifel, once a gift card sits dormant for five years a business has to turn over that money to his office.
"Gift cards are an important piece of our unclaimed property and a growing piece of our unclaimed property because they are more popular than ever before," he said.
So if you bought a gift card for someone and they don't use it, that money is yours. However, you have to prove you bought it.
"If you can make a copy of the gift card. Keep the copy in a safe place."
If your gift card is expired it doesn't mean you can't use it. "If you do find a gift card that appears to be expired then take time and see that business and see if there is any chance you can redeem it."
Several websites like PlasticJungle and GiftCardRescue allow consumers to sell or trade unwanted gift cards. There are several scam websites out there. Be careful as you would with any online commerce.
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