Sunday night Reuters reported that DC is suing AT&T over phone card balances. In essence, for all of those pre-paid phone cards out there in the world, some of them have balances that are never spent. DC is using a piece of law called Escheat that dates back well into feudal England. The concept is easy: If there is property, it must be owned by someone. If you abandon property long enough, it devolves back to someone after a period of time, usually the state.
Thus, as with dormant or abandoned bank accounts, AG Nickles wants to see the same done with phone cards. In specific, he’d like any card abandoned by someone with a billing address in the District, for more than three years, to devolve back to the City, and inserted into the General Fund. Sounds shady, but it turns out to have a lengthy history in the law. Got any old phone cards? Might want to use them all the way up. Call your mom, she hasn’t heard from you in a while.