Category: scams

Multiple States Warn of Unclaimed Property Postcard Scam

Unclaimed property administrators in a number of states are warning about an identity theft scheme where the thieves send “Unclaimed Property Notifications” to the public to solicit personal information.  The postcards contain a toll-free number and ask the caller to provide identification information in order to claim the property.  This scam has shown up in Delaware, Kansas, Nebraska, West Virginia, Maine, Kentucky and probably a number of other states.

While these potential scams come in a number of different varieties, here are some tips to (try to) avoid scams relating to unclaimed property:

  • Don’t Pay to Search — States do not charge a fee for allowing you to search for unclaimed funds, or in most cases, even to collect unclaimed funds.
  • Don’t Trust Links — If you receive an email purporting to be from your state unclaimed property office with a link, go to the site directly.  A link to every states’ unclaimed property office can be found on the website of the Nat’l Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
  • Don’t Trust Phone Numbers — Similarly, don’t call the number provided to you in an unsolicited email or voicemail.  Look up (using NAUPA or some other source) the phone number for your state unclaimed property office yourself, and call them directly.  Some scams seek to trick victims into calling an international phone number and incurring high fees for those calls.
  • Don’t Provide Financial Information — You do not have to provide any financial or bank account information to perform a search or to learn if a state is holding unclaimed funds on your behalf.

Vermont AG Warns of Unclaimed Property Scam (and Some Tips for Claiming)

An article in the (Vermont) Valley News reports a warning from the Vermont Attorney General’s Office concerning an unclaimed property scam making the rounds in the Green Mountain State (and perhaps elsewhere).  The scam apparently involves contacting the Facebook “friends” of a compromised account, informing them that they have unclaimed property, and providing a call-in number.  Individuals who contact the number are advised that they have unclaimed funds, and are asked to wire money to pay for taxes and fees.

Here are some tips to (try to) avoid scams relating to unclaimed property:

  • Don’t Pay to Search — States do not charge a fee for allowing you to search for unclaimed funds, or in most cases, even to collect unclaimed funds.
  • Don’t Trust Links — If you receive an email purporting to be from your state unclaimed property office with a link, go to the site directly.  A link to every states’ unclaimed property office can be found on the website of the Nat’l Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
  • Don’t Trust Phone Numbers — Similarly, don’t call the number provided to you in an unsolicited email or voicemail.  Look up (using NAUPA or some other source) the phone number for your state unclaimed property office yourself, and call them directly.  Some scams seek to trick victims into calling an international phone number and incurring high fees for those calls.
  • Don’t Provide Financial Information — You do not have to provide any financial or bank account information to perform a search or to learn if a state is holding unclaimed funds on your behalf.

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

Friday Lost + Found: Virginia’s Billion, Wyoming’s Scam Warning

Big Numbers Out of Virginia — The Virginian-Pilot has an article about an unclaimed property auction currently being hosted by the Virginia Department of Treasury.  Feel free to check it out if you are so inclined.  However, what caught our attention here was the passing reference to how much unclaimed property is currently being held by Virginia:  according to the article, “more than $1 billion is waiting to be claimed.”  (That’s right, with a “B”). 

Wyoming Warns of Unclaimed Property Scam — Along those same lines, when there is such a huge pot of money waiting to be claimed, it should come as no surprise that there are people out there who are trying to see if they can get a slice of it, honestly or not.  The Wyoming State Treasurer’s Office recently warned residents of a scam whereby so called “finders” identify potential claimants, and contact them, asking for personal information and offering to “help” them reclaim their money for a fee of up to 50% of the value of the property.  Not only is that fee unscrupulous, but the disclosure of personal information subjects the claimant to an increased risk of identity theft.  We’ve discussed finders before in this space, and while we will forgo the discussion of the relative risks and benefits of finders for today, suffice it to say that 50% is too much.

Warning About Unclaimed Property Scams (& Some Claiming Tips)

According to Fox 19 in Cincinnati, the Ohio Department of Commerce is warning Ohioans about an unclaimed property scam that is being used to try to trick people into providing bank account and other personal financial information.  To add an element of credibility, the scam emails supposedly come from the Nat’l Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators which is, of course, a real organization of which most states’ unclaimed property offices are a member. 

Update:  According to Fox 5 Las Vegas, Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall is warning of a similar scam.

Here are some helpful claiming tips:

  • Don’t Pay to Search — States do not charge a fee for allowing you to search for unclaimed funds, or in most cases, even to collect unclaimed funds.
  • Don’t Trust Links — If you receive an email purporting to be from your state unclaimed property office with a link, go to the site directly.  A link to every states’ unclaimed property office can be found on the website of the Nat’l Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
  • Don’t Trust Phone Numbers — Similarly, don’t call the number provided to you in an unsolicited email or voicemail.  Look up (using NAUPA or some other source) the phone number for your state unclaimed property office yourself, and call them directly.
    • Update:  According an article posted by Fox 5 Las Vegas, Nevada is warning that the scam referred to above seeks to trick victims into “call[ing] an international phone number and incur[ing] high fees for the call.”
  • Don’t Provide Financial Information — You do not have to provide any financial or bank account information to perform a search or to learn if a state is holding unclaimed funds on your behalf.