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Governor Cuomo signs new law to protect consumers using gift cards

Staff Writer |
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation instituting new consumer protections for consumers using gift cards.

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The bill increases the minimum time before cards are charged a user fee, places additional restrictions on those fees, and expands the expiration dates of gift cards in order to protect consumers.

"These new protections will help prevent New Yorkers from being nickeled and dimed by hidden costs and fees," Governor Cuomo said. "No one expects an asterisk when buying a gift card and I'm proud to sign this legislation to help ensure consumers get their money's worth."

Under this new law, the time period in which fees can be charged to unused gift card balances has been increased from 13 to 25 months and any monthly service fees that are applied after this time must be waived if the consumer uses the gift card within three years of the issue date.

In addition, this law will require the gift card's terms and conditions to describe exactly what the procedure is to replace a missing card. Finally, no gift card may now have an expiration date of earlier than five years from the date of issuance.

"Is there anything more frustrating than receiving a gift card for the holidays or a birthday, only to misplace it and learn later it is now worthless?" said Senator Rich Funke.

Too often have consumers either purchased or been given a gift card, only to later find out that there is little to no money left to spend due to exorbitant fees assessed on the card due to inactivity," said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

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