Hank Investigates: Unredeemed Gift Cards

BEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Did you get a gift card as a present you never used? Maybe you stashed it in a drawer and forgot?

Investigative Reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan has some holiday cheer for you! She found tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents have no idea the value of their old gift cards may not be a ghost of holidays past. Hank Investigates.

The holiday shopping season is here. The hustle and bustle… and the shopping bills.

How’d you like someone to give you some extra shopping dollars?

That’s what we did for Michelle from Bedford.

“I was pretty surprised,” Michelle said.

She had $761 she didn’t know about until we told her.

It’s from a Tiffany gift certificate she got nearly 20 years ago.

Back then Michelle married, had two kids and was working full time.

“It was a very busy time of life,” Michelle said.

She returned some wedding and baptism presents to Tiffany and got a gift card in exchange.

“I forgot all about it,” Michelle said.

But Tiffany didn’t.

State records we obtained show Tiffany sent the cash value of Michelle’s unused gift card to the Massachusetts Treasurer’s office.

“It’s a significant amount of money. I wasn’t expecting it,” Michelle said.

And you might have some forgotten money there too.

We found millions of dollars in unredeemed gift cards, gift certificates and store credits belonging to tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents just waiting to be claimed.

“How much money is there?” Hank asked.

“Over ten million dollars,” Mark William Bracken, attorney and assistant treasurer for the Unclaimed Property Division of the Massachusetts Treasurer’s office said.

We discovered someone from East Longmeadow has $5000 from Lands End.

A Canton man has $1000 from American Express.

“Do you think people realize that?” Hank asked.

“I don’t think people realize that,” Bracken said.

If a gift card has Visa, Master Card or American Express logo, companies are required to turn the cash value over to the state if it isn’t redeemed in three years.

Sometimes companies turn over unused gift cards without those logos as well even though legally they don’t have to.

And you don’t have to spend the money at a certain store, you get cash to spend any way you’d like.

Michelle says she knows exactly how she’ll spend her money.

“I’m going shopping,” Michelle said.

When you receive gift cards be sure to register them. There’s usually information on the back of the card that tells you how. Once a card is registered companies know who the money belongs to. It could make it easier for you to claim the balance if you lose or don’t redeem a gift card.

If you want to see if you have an unredeemed gift card or unclaimed property just search for your name on treasurer’s website: Findmassmoney.com

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