Category: Lost + Found

Friday Lost + Found: Show Me State Searches, Sunshine State Slowdown, Audit Webinar

Missouri Legislature Passes Life Insurance Bill . . . . — The Missouri legislature recently passed House Bill 2150, which would require insurance companies to compare policy information against the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File on a semiannual basis.

. . . .While Florida Insurers Seek to Block Bill — In the same vein, WMFE is reporting that a group of insurers has filed suit in Florida state court seeking to prevent retroactive provision of a law that requires them to undertake DMF searches back to 1992.

UPPO Audit Webinar — The Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization (UPPO) is hosting a webinar on compliance efforts and avoiding audits.  Among the topics to be covered are state amnesty programs, completing state unclaimed property questionnaires, and fine-tuning compliance procedures.  Further information and sign-up details can be found at the UPPO website.

Friday Lost + Found: California’s Audit Haul, Delaware Faces Threats, AARP Says “Open Your Mail”

California Unclaimed Property Audits Bring in Over $1B Per Year — The Lake Arrowhead, California Mountain News has an article about a recent speech given by California State Treasurer John Chiang.  In addition to discussing the state budget, new technology initiatives, and “his perspective on the ‘American Dream,'” Treasurer Chiang gave some information relating to his time as the State Controller.  As reported by Mountain News, Treasurer Chiang claimed that California’s unclaimed property program was “broken” when he took over as Controller, and that his focus on “high profile audits brought in $9.3 billion” during his time in office (or about $1.2 billion per year).   To put that number into some perspective, $1.2 billion per year is more than the GDP of at at least 17 countries.

Delaware Online Chronicles Threats to Delaware’s Revenue — In Delaware Online there is an editorial by Harry Themal which outlines some of the “clouds on the horizon” with regard to Delaware’s future financial outlook.  Along with many of the same problems that plague other states, the article specifically notes Delaware’s vulnerability to fluctuations in revenue from abandoned property and the possibility of future lawsuits (as suggested by Justice Alito’s comments in Taylor v. Yee).  As Mr. Themal notes, “[e]scheat has netted Delaware half a billion dollars – an eighth of the budget – so court rulings could be deadly.”

AARP:  “Open Your Mail!”The AARP recently posted an article entitled “Abandoned Funds May be at Risk” which sounds the alarm over the speed and relative ease with which some states declare investment accounts and securities as “abandoned” property.  While many investors favor a “buy and hold” or similar passive investment strategy, the article notes that investors need to stay in contact with financial institutions (and open their mail) to prevent funds from being deemed “abandoned.”

Friday Lost + Found: Airport Accumulations, Bayou Bucks, and Reporting Refresher

Loose Change Adds Up — The UK’s Daily Mail reports that the Transportation Security Administration collected over $750,000 last year at U.S. airports (and over $4.3 million over the last eight years) in loose change and the like left at security checkpoints.

States, They’re Just Like Us — WBRZ in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (home of Mike the Tiger) has an article about the unclaimed property held by the State of Louisiana on behalf of various agencies of . . . the State of Louisiana.  According to the story, some of the $700 million held by the State is owed to various government agencies, many of which are operating under limited budgets.

Upcoming UPPO Webinar on Reporting — On May 18, the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization is hosting a webinar on the details of unclaimed property reporting.  If you need a refresher in advance of the fall reporting season, signup information is available at the UPPO website.

Friday Lost + Found: More Fraud Warnings, Insurance Questions . . . is DMF the Answer?

Massachusetts Warns of Fraudulent LettersMassachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg issued a warning that her office has been receiving reports of fraudulent unclaimed property letters seeming to come from the Office of the Commonwealth Treasurer.  As a reminder, states do not charge owners of unclaimed property for searching for and obtaining property from the state.

Life Insurance on Sixty Minutes — CBS’s news program 60 Minutes recently ran a story about life insurers payment practices that is based, in large part, on the mutli-state audits of insurers’ unclaimed property practices.  As a result of those investigations, states have become increasingly more insistent that insurers consult the Social Security “Death Master File” in order to determine when life insurance benefits have become payable.

But Is DMF The Answer? — Though more and more states are requiring DMF searches as part of unclaimed property law or insurance regulatory compliance, some in the industry think that the approach is flawed.  In a recent editorial on InsuranceNewsNet, Michael Babikian voices some of those concerns and offers some alternatives.

Friday Lost + Found: Just How Much Are States Holding?

As the East Coast prepares for its first major snowstorm of 2016, we take a quick look at some recent stories concerning the dollar value of unclaimed property held by state governments.

California —  Over $8 billion

Connecticut$710 million

Illinois — Over $2 billion

Maryland  Over $1 billion

New York —  Over $14 billion

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, the states collectively are holding in excess of $40 Billion in unclaimed property for the rightful owners of those sums.

Like so many snowflakes, those misplaced pennies add up.

Friday Lost + Found: Australia Amendments, NY Numbers, Escheat Events

Australia to Revise Bank Account Rules — According to an article om News.com.au, the Australian government is considering legislation to (re)revise its laws relating to unclaimed bank accounts.  Under the current rules, certain bank accounts are deemed unclaimed if there has been no activity for 3 years.  The proposed revisions would change the period of inactivity required to 7 years.

New York Holding $14B in Unclaimed Property — Every once in a while, we like to keep tabs on the current amount of money being held by the states’ as unclaimed property.  According to one recent article, the amount currently held by the New York Office of Unclaimed Funds for New Yorkers is $14 billion as of fiscal year end March 31.

Upcoming UPPO Webinar on Recovering Property — Though we spend the vast majority of time on this site writing about the process of reporting and remitting unclaimed property, it is worth remembering that most holders of unclaimed property are also owners of unclaimed property held by others.  On October 14, the Unclaimed Property Professionals’ Organizations is sponsoring a webinar on “How to Recover Property for Your Company”.  Webinar details and registration information can be found at the UPPO website.

Friday Lost + Found: Happy Unclaimed Property Day and California & Kentucky Questions

Kentucky State Treasurer Defends His Post — Kentucky.com has an article about Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach’s defense of the position of State Treasurer.  Although term limits prevent Hollenbach from running again, a according to Kentucky.com some candidates for the position of State Treasurer seek to abolish the office – arguing that the various tasks can be handled by other government departments.

California Legislative Analysts’ Office: California Can Do More to Return Unclaimed PropertyThe LA Times is reporting on a release by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) noting a potential conflict between the California Controller’s Office’s obligation to return unclaimed money to California citizens, and the revenue generated by the more than $400 million in revenue that unclaimed funds contribute to the state budget.

February 18 Was Unclaimed Property Day in South CarolinaAccording to WMBF, February 18 was declared “Unclaimed Property Day” in South Carolina by that state’s General Assembly and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis.  To be your own Santa in South Carolina, you can check the Treasury;s “Palmetto Payback” program here.

Friday Lost + Found: Texas Gift Cards, Wisconsin Auction, Delaware Followup

Texas Announces $12M in Unclaimed Gift Cards Available — NBC 5 (Dallas/Fort Worth) is reporting that the Texas State Controller’s office has about $12 million in abandoned gift cards awaiting reclaim at state offices.  The article even has a document from the Controller’s office indicating the businesses that have reported such funds.

Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue Unclaimed Property Auction — People deposit all kinds of stuff in safe deposit boxes — jewelry, stamps, coins, collectibles — and sometimes they abandon them.  That stuff eventually makes its way to state unclaimed property offices.  But what does the state do with those items?  In some cases, the answer is auction the items to the public.  The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is currently running an online auction until January 20.  Items can be viewed and bid upon online.

Delaware Legislation Proposed With Task Force RecommendationsOur last post talked about the recommendations of the Delaware Abandoned Property Task Force and wondered aloud if any action would be taken in response to the group’s recommendations.  Recently, Senate Bill 11 was proposed in the legislature, which would adopt some of the Task Force’s recommendations.

Lost + Found: Safe Depost Boxes in the Land of Enchantment, Another Insurance Settlement

Video on New Mexico’s Unclaimed Property — ‘Tis the season for unclaimed safe deposit boxes.  Albuquerque’s KOAT (ABC) has a short video about the $132 million in cash and property that New Mexico’s unclaimed property regulators have collected from abandoned safe deposit boxes.  The New Mexico Department of Revenue and Taxation suggests that now is the time to determine if some of that property is yours.

Another Life Insurer Settles Unpaid Benefits ClaimsInsuranceNewsNet has the story of another life insurance death master file settlement.  See here for a primer.  The article states that regulators are “turning away from investigations and settlements, and instead focusing on writing legislation that clearly establishes their authority to conduct the settlement.”  Perhaps 2015 will bring such legislation.

Friday Lost + Found: More Insurance Settlements, Illinois Auction, UP in the Mainstream

More Insurance Industry Settlements — According to an article on Insurance News, another life insurer — Sun Life of Canada — has settled claims relating to the alleged “asymmetrical” use of the Social Security “Death Master File.”  Generally, the states allege that insurers actively researched death index information for annuity products (i.e., where the insurer was paying benefits until the policyholder died) but didn’t use the same information to determine when death benefits became payable to beneficiaries.  According to the article, this represents the 18th settlement arising the from the multi-state investigation of life insurers’ unclaimed property practices.

Illinois Unclaimed Property Auction — Looking to do some early holiday shopping?  The Office of the Illinois State Treasurer will be commencing an auction of unclaimed property on Monday.  The Northwest Herald has the details.

Unclaimed Property in the New York Times — For those of us in unclaimed property — a relatively niche practice, to say the least — it’s always a little exciting when UP news makes it to mass media.  (If for no other reason than to prove to our disbelieving family members that such laws exist).  The The New York Times recently had a “Your Money” article by Ron Lieber featuring unclaimed property.