By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey is co-sponsoring a bill to help consumers get what they’re paying for, buying gift cards.

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“The Gift Card Consumer Protection Act,” that’s the name of the proposal, which Senator Casey says aims to do three things:

1) Eliminate deadlines and dormancy fees on gift cards.

2) Sharply restrict the ability of companies in or nearing bankruptcy to sell cards and require any cards out there to be honored.

3) Prevent store loyalty, promotion and award cards from expiring.

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A lot of gift cards end up in drawers, says Casey, “Consumer Reports say that one quarter of Americans who receive gift cards during the holidays have at least one of those cards lying around some ten months later.”

Casey says his bill wouldn’t help with misplacing the cards, but it would help them keep the value the purchaser invested in them.

“Looking at the year 2010, a researcher at a financial services firm estimated that consumers left $2.5 billion in gift card values in that calendar year.”

Sometimes the company gets to keep the money. Sometimes it ends up in state coffers. This is an attempt at a national solution to make sure an act of generosity benefits its original recipient.

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