Check Your Wallet: Unclaimed Gift Cards Could Put Money In Your Pocket

SEVEN, TOP SPOT OVER PORCH PIRATES IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY, ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, IS OFTEN SO THEY ARE STEALING A LOT IN THE STATE OF TEXAS

> USE IT OR LOSE IT, THAT IS THE ONE COMING TONIGHT FROM A FORT WORTH WOMAN WHO SAYS THAT SHE LEARNED A VERY COSTLY LESSON THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, AND SHE WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THIS OUR CONSUMER INVESTIGATOR ALANA IS HERE TO SHARE HER STORY REPORTER: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT GIFT CARDS, A LOCAL TEACHER SAYING THE MONEY SHE RECEIVED DISAPPEARED BUT, IT IS POSSIBLE THE MONEY FROM YOUR GIFT CARDS IS JUST WAITING TO BE CLAIMED SO, THIS IS THE GIFT CARD THAT I GOT FOR $50

REPORTER: IT WAS A PRESENT, LAURA TERRY GOT FROM HER STUDENTS, BUT NOW THIS MASTERCARD GIFT CARD IS WITH HALF ITS VALUE, ALL BECAUSE SHE NEVER READ THE FINE PRINT YOU FLIP IT OVER, HAVE YOUR GLASSES READY — REPORTER: IT IS CALLED AN INACTIVITY FEE, AND IT KICKS IN IF YOU DO NOT USE THE CARD FOR A YEAR AFTER THAT DEADLINE, MASTERCARD STARTED DEDUCTING TWO DOLLARS FROM TERRY'S BALANCE, EVERY MONTH IT FEELS AWFUL, THAT SOME BUT HE HAS GIVEN YOU A PRESENT, AND THEY WANT YOU TO GET THE JOY OUT OF USING IT, BUT JUST BECAUSE I WAS SAVING IT, IT LOST ALMOST HALF ITS VALUE REPORTER: HER HUSBAND, LEARNED THE SAME LESSON

HE HAD BEEN SAVING HIS GIFT CARDS, ONE OF THE CARDS HE HAD HAD GONE TO ZERO REPORTER: WHILE GIFT CARDS FROM BANKS CAN BE USED ALMOST ANYWHERE, THEY OFTEN CARRY AN ACTIVATION FEE 4 TO 6 DOLLARS, DEDUCTED FROM YOUR CARD BUT, HAVE NO FEAR, DEPENDENT ON THE GIFT CARD, YOU COULD HANG ONTO THE FUNDS FOR YEARS THERE IS ABOUT $25 MILLION WORTH OF GIFT CARDS THAT ARE SITTING ON CLAIMED

REPORTER: KEVIN LYONS WORKS FOR THE TEXAS COMPTROLLER, THE AGENCY THAT WORKS — COLLECTS UNCLAIMED GIFT CARDS, AT A CERTAIN TIME, STATE LAW REQUIRES COMPANIES TO TURN OVER THE MONEY FROM EXPIRED GIFT CARDS TO THE COMPTROLLER IF YOU DO NOT USE IT, YOU DO NOT LOSE IT, THE MONEY IS YOURS, THE ISSUE IS, HOW YOU CLAIM IT REPORTER: TO CLAIM YOUR GIFT CARD, YOU MUST PROVIDE THE NUMBER ON THE BACK AND YOUR ID THEN, THE STATE CUT YOU A CHECK

WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE GET THE PROPERTY TO ITS RIGHTFUL OWNER REPORTER: SO WHERE DO THESE EXPIRED GIFT CARDS COME FROM? WELLS FARGO TOP THE LIST WITH $9 MILLION IN UNCLAIMED FUNDS FOLLOWED BY APPLE WITH 3 MILLION , AND PACIFIC WESTERN BANK WITH 2 MILLION MEN'S WAREHOUSE, WALMART, AND TIFFANY'S, ALSO RANK HIGH ON THE LIST , THE BEST ADVICE FOR SHOPPERS? WHEN YOU GET A GIFT CARD, I SAY GO SPEND IT

[ LAUGHTER ] USE THEM [ LAUGHTER ] DO NOT HANG ONTO THEM, LIKE I DID REPORTER: THERE IS ONE CATCH, IF YOU CLAIM MORE THAN $100, THE STATE CHARGES A ONE 5% FEE THERE IS A WEBSITE YOU CAN VISIT, TO SEE IF THE STATE OWES YOU MONEY, CLAIMANT TEXAS

ORG, AND THAT IS A NICE LITTLE CHRISTMAS GIFT YOU CAN GIVE TO YOURSELF IF YOU CHECK FOR THOSE WHO HAVE THE CARDS, AND THEY FELL ON THE BACK OF THE DOOR, AND A LONG TIME AGO YOU CAN FIND IT, HOW LONG BEFORE THE CARD EXPIRES, IS THERE A GENERAL EXPIRATION FOR ALL OF THEM, OR WHEN THE FEES START KICKING IN? IT REALLY DEPENDS ON WHAT KIND OF FEE IT IS I WOULD SAY IT IS SAFEST TO USE IT BEFORE A YEAR, THAT IS WHEN A LOT OF THE INACTIVITY FEES, OR PENALTY FEES WILL KICK IN, BUT PRESSURE — FISHER, YOU SHOULD USE IT BEFORE THREE IS, BECAUSE THAT IS WHEN THE DORMANCY PERIOD FOR THE STATE KICKS IN, AND IS WHEN YOUR FUNDS WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE STATE I ARGUE WITH MY WIFE ALL THE TIME, BECAUSE GET A GIFT CARD OR TWO, AND I WANT TO USE THEM RIGHT AWAY, BECAUSE WE WILL LOSE THEM, AND YOU FIND THEM THREE YEARS LATER OR GO SOMEWHERE ELSE, SO THEY CAN WENDY AUGMENT

GOOD ADVICE, THANK YOU, SHE