Category: reunification efforts

Friday Lost + Found: States Release Unclaimed Property Lists, Georgia Critiqued

Massachusetts Releases Unclaimed Property List . . .  — Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman recently announced the release of the Bay State’s most recent list of unclaimed properties.  According to the press release, the list contains 45,000 new properties in excess of $100 million collected by the Department during the last six months.  The new list also includes some $20 million in unclaimed life insurance policies discovered during recent audits.

. . . and Nebraska Too — According to an article in the Lincoln Journal Star the Nebraska State Treasury is preparing to publish the names of an additional 35,000 unclaimed property owners in Husker State newspapers during March and April.

CBS46 Atlanta:  Georgia Not Doing Enough to Reunite Owners With Funds — We’ve spent a fair amount of time recently addressing state efforts to reunite owners with their property.  According to a series of special reports by the local CBS affiliate, Georgia is not doing enough to make outreach efforts to owners.  According to the article, the state doesn’t publish owner names, hasn’t issued a press release in years, and doesn’t use social media.  The whole series of articles is well worth a read.


West Virginia Adds More Names to Unclaimed Property Website

The Office of the West Virginia State Treasurer has announced recent policy changes that increase the amount of unclaimed property appearing on the state’s website (and, thus, available for online searches).  According to the Treasury’s press release, the threshold for listing property on the website has been reduced from $50 to $25.  The same release notes that the department is soon to release an additional 13,000 items that are being held by the state for West Virginia residents.  Kudos to the Mountaineer State for making efforts to reunite more owners with their property.

Lost + Found: More Reclaim Records, Nebraska Outreach, Missouri Warnings

More States Announce Owner Reclaim Records — Recently, we noted New York’s and Missouri’s announcements that they returned a record amount of property to rightful owners during the most recent fiscal year.  This week brings additional notices from Louisiana and Texas touting record returns.  Congrats to all.

Nebraska Announces Outreach Events — Speaking of owner reunification, the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office has announced a series of events all across the state where an “unclaimed property specialist” will be available to help citizens look for their unclaimed property.  Treasury officials will
be attending the Nebraska State Fair, Harvest Husker Days, and other places.  A schedule of outreach events can be found here.

Missouri Warns of Unclaimed Property Scam — According to a story by CBS affiliate KOAM7, Missouri State Treasurer is warning citizens about an unclaimed property scam being conducted by someone posing as an auditor from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.  While NAUPA is a real entity, it neither conducts unclaimed property audits on states’ behalf, nor is it responsible for refunding money to owners (that task is undertaken by the individual states themselves).  We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again:  if you get a communication about unclaimed property from someone posing as a state employee or representative, you should contact the state directly – using contact information available on the state’s official website, not contact information provided in an unsolicited letter

Lost + Found: Records in New York and Missouri, Oregon Holder Seminar

New York Sets Unclaimed Property Reunification Record . . .  — According to an article in the Auburn Citizen, the New York State Office of Unclaimed Funds returned a record $347 million in unclaimed property during fiscal year 2012-13.  Lest anyone think that the job at OUF is complete, the same article notes that New York still has $12.5 billion in funds waiting to be claimed.

. . . As Does Missouri (Again) — Missouri State Treasurer (and Escheatable guest) Clint Zweifel recently announced that his office also broke the state reunification record by returning more than $39 million in the past year.  The record wasn’t very old – it was broken by the State Treasury last year.

Oregon Holding Holder Education Seminars — All summer, the Oregon Department of State Lands will be hosting holder education seminars for reporters of unclaimed property.  According to the DSL’s website, the half-day seminars will include an overview of the law, determining when and how to report unclaimed property, how to conduct due diligence, and more.  A complete schedule of events is available at the DSL’s website.

Lost & Found: Connecticut Records, UP Official Sentenced, Politics (but not really)

Connecticut Sets Unclaimed Property Record:  Add Connecticut to the list of states that have set unclaimed property collection or reunification records this year.  According to the Hartford Business Journal, the Nutmeg State returned more than $83.5 million to rightful owners this year, an increase of $30 million over last year.  A large part of the record came from a single claim for $32.8 million — the largest claim in state history — relating to stock held by the state for a single individual.

Former Oklahoma Unclaimed Property Auditor Sentenced:  A few months ago, we mentioned the story of LaTisha Reid, the former Oklahoma unclaimed property auditor charged with stealing unclaimed property from the state.  Reid ultimately pled guilty to some two dozen felonies and was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison.  Kids, crime doesn’t pay. 

What Do Both Parties Have in Common?:  As you may know, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC ended last night, with a speech by the President.  The previous week, the Republican National Convention was held in Tampa, FL.  Now, we try to keep it bipartisan here at Escheatable, but what do the parties have in common?  Unclaimed property.  According to a search on Missing Money, both parties have funds held for them by the states. 

States Continue To Set Reunification Records

We have seen a number of new and or reinvigorated efforts by state governments to return unclaimed property to the true owners of that property.  In fact, soon we will run our next installment of “Meet Your Escheator” with Kentucky State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach to talk about Kentucky’s unique holder reunification programs.  In the interim, we have more states announcing record amounts returned to owners:

In Massachusetts, State Treasurer Steven Grossman announced that the Bay State has returned more than $84 million to residents during Fiscal Year 2012, a 10% increase over last year’s return.

Out west in Nevada, State Treasurer Kate Marshall announced that her office has returned more than $33 million in the past fiscal year, a new record.

Illinois State Treasury Announces Launch of "I-Cash" Program

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford recently announced a relaunch of Illinois’ unclaimed property outreach program, and the addition of more than 780,000 names to the state’s unclaimed property database.  The new program, called I-Cash, aims to connect Illinois residents to the more than $1.5 billion (yes, with a “b”) that the state is currently holding for its residents.

According to the program’s marketing piece, 1 and 8 Illinois residents have property being held for them by the Treasurer’s office.  In other reunification news, the unclaimed property administrations of MissouriArkansasIowa, and Pennsylvania all recently touted their successes in reuniting unclaimed funds with their rightful owners.

Lost & Found: New Jersey Gift Card Editorials, Missouri Breaks Records, South Carolina Returns Money to Lawmakers, West Virginia Treasuer Honored

Editorial on New Jersey Gift Card Law — Last week, we posted an update concerning the New Jersey legislature’s efforts to repeal the Garden State’s 2010 gift card legislation.  Recently, the Times of Trenton, NJ published an editorial strongly in favor of repealing New Jersey’s gift card law.  While the Times editorial board commended the state’s efforts to ban dormancy fees and expiration dates, it nonetheless argued that “[t]he state should not be poised like a vulture over these purchases, counting on a recipient’s forgetfulness to help patch budget holes.”  The full editorial can be found at the Times of Trenton website here.

Even Some Lawmakers Unaware of Unclaimed Property Laws — Charleston, SC NBC Affiliate WCBD recently reported that South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis (who was a recent participant in our “Meet Your Escheator” feature) announced that at least 23 South Carolina legislators were owed unclaimed money by the state.  Thanks to the efforts of Treasurer Loftis, that number is likely to get whittled down.  According to an article published on at least one legislator has already begun the reclaim process.

Missouri Breaks Unclaimed Property Reunification Record (Again) — According to an article in the St. James Leader-Journal, Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel recently announced that, for the third time in a row, the state has broken the record for the largest amount of money returned from the unclaimed property fund for the fiscal year (with a few weeks remaining).  This year, Missouri has returned more than $36.5 million.  Of course, as regular readers may recall that large amount was helped a great deal by the fact that just a few months ago, Missouri paid out the largest single unclaimed property claim ever (of more than $6 million).

West Virginia Treasurer Given Lifetime Achievement Award — The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, an organization representing the interests of state unclaimed property departments, recently honored West Virginia Treasurer John Purdue with a lifetime achievement award to recognize him for his efforts to return unclaimed property to West Virginians.  According to an article in the Charleston (WV) Gazette, Treasurer Pursue has overseen the return of more than $100 million since West Virginia’s unclaimed property law was modernized in 1996.

Lost & Found: UPPO Events, Wisconsin Hits the Road, Missouri Shows Haul

UPPO Holder Seminar Coming in July — For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, the Unclaimed Property Professionals’ Organization will be holding a Holders’ Seminar on July 16-17 in Seattle, Washington.  The Seminar will cover a variety of beginner and intermediate relating to unclaimed property reporting, audits, and legislative changes.  The agenda can be found here.  As we’ve mentioned several times, the UPPO is a fantastic resource for unclaimed property professionals.  If you are interested in learning more and can make it to Seattle, it will be well worth it.  If you just can’t wait until July for your dose of UPPO-y goodness, they are sponsoring an April 30th webinar to provide “the State’s Perspective” on unclaimed property.  More info can be found here.

Wisconsin Treasurer on Unclaimed Property Tour — According to the Wisconsin State Treasury Blog (a must read for Badger State residents), Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller will be going on “tour” across Wisconsin to publicize the state unclaimed property program.  Details can be found here.  (Also worth checking out on the blog is Treasurer Schuller’s unclaimed property commercial).

Missouri Video Tour of Unclaimed Property Collections — Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel is no stranger to unique reunification efforts (or this website!).  Now, the Show-Me-State Treasurer posted a video tour of the items collected in this year’s haul of safe deposit box collections.  From jewelry, baseball cards, memorabilia, to some more . . . (ahem) esoteric items. Go check it out.

What California’s Unclaimed Property Statistics Mean

Recently, the California State Controller’s Office (the CA government entity responsible for administering that state’s unclaimed property program) released a variety of charts and statistics relating to property returned by California to owners from 1997-98 to 2010-11.  While the amounts of cash returned, securities returned, and notices mailed to owners seem impressive (and frankly, are impressive), the huge uptick in each of these items doesn’t tell the whole story: 

The huge uptick appears to begin in 2007.  As you may recall, in 2007, the California Unclaimed Property Department was shut down by a federal court for what the court determined was a violation of owners’ due process rights by the state.  As a result of that injunction, the state passed new legislation that, among other things, required both the holder and the State to make attempts to notify the owner. In other words, while holders in California — as elsewhere — send due diligence notices to owners prior to remitting property to the State, California’s revised law requires the State to make those efforts as well.  State due diligence notices are arguably more effective from holder notices for at least two reasons:

First, the State generally has access to more and better address databases in order to locate the owners of property.  While the holder generally has only its own records, the state has that information as well as numerous public databases such as drivers’ license records, franchise tax reports, personal income tax reports and the like.  The sheer number of contacts between the owner and the state make it more likely that (at least one) state agency will have the right address. 

Second, and more practically, an owner is just more likely to open a letter from the state than from a private company.  Many individuals are inundated with mail from the firms with which they do business in the form of advertising, rebates, promotional material, privacy notices, monthly statements, general correspondence, and product or service offers.  Especially in light of the prevalence of online and electronic bill payment, some people probably don’t even open mail from their bank or broker.

Ultimately, what California’s statistics seem to show is that state due diligence letters work.  Accordingly, while several states are working hard to increase the scope of property they take and the speed with which they take it (all in the name of protecting owners), there is more they can do if the real goal is to reunite money with its rightful owners.