Category: Lost + Found

Friday Lost + Found

This Week in Unclaimed Property

Uniform Act News — Colorado recently became the latest state to adopt a version of the 2016 Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Recently, LD 1544 was introduced in the Maine Legislature, which would enact a version of the 2016 Uniform Act in that state.

Illinois Breaks Claim Processing Record — According to WILL (a station, not a person), the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office has filled over 200,000 claims and returned over $200 million in unclaimed funds to owners in the past 10 months.

Happy Star Wars Day — Tomorrow, May 4th is Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be With You”). On that note, a recent search discloses that the California Unclaimed Property Division is holding funds for Darth Vader (who apparently spent some time in Burbank), Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, R2D2, C3PO, Chewbacca, and Boba Fett (at 123 Fake Street in San Jose) – but no Princess Leia.

Friday Lost + Found

IRS Holding $1.4B in Unclaimed Refunds — According to CBS News the Internal Revenue Service has announced that it has approximately $1.4 billion in unclaimed tax returns for more than a million taxpayers. In addition to background on how these amounts have gone unclaimed, the article also has some tips for those who may have fallen behind on filings.

California Holding Over $9 Billion in Unclaimed Property — From time to time, states will publish estimates of the approximate amount of unclaimed funds being held at a given time. According to a recent press release from the California State Controller’s Office, the Golden State holds over $9 billion dollars in unclaimed funds waiting for its rightful owners.

Former Mutual Fund Employee Convicted of Stealing from Dormant Accounts — Whenever any organization has a cache of dormant or otherwise unclaimed funds lying around (so to speak) there will be those who see the potential to take some of that money for themselves. According to the Philly Inquirer, a supervisor at a large mutual fund company has recently pleaded guilty to stealing more than $2 million “from dormant accounts that were slated for ‘escheat.'” He then issued checks from these accounts to various family members. There is no information on how the scam was discovered, but according to the Inquirer “[s]entencing guidelines call for a potential 46 years in prison, $2.1 million in restitution and a $1.25 million fine.”

Friday Lost & Found

A Roundup of Odds & Ends From the Week in Unclaimed Property

GAO Issues Report on Unclaimed 401(k) Funds — The Government Accountability Office, which is responsible for providing recommendations to Congress on the responsibilities of the federal government, recently issued a report concerning the application state unclaimed property laws to retirement assets such as 401(k)s. In preparing the report, GAO sent questionnaires to the unclaimed property offices of all 50 states, interviewed industry representatives, and surveyed fund and brokerage firms on their handling of these items. Among the GAO’s recommendations are that the IRS clarify the tax treatment of plans that are escheated to the state and consider allowing taxpayers whose later claim assets that were unknowingly escheated to rollover the assets into a qualified plan.

Claim Headaches — One of the benefits of modern escheat laws is that they are generally “custodial” in nature — meaning that the state takes possession of unclaimed property on the owner’s behalf, but the property does not actually become the state’s property. That said, the claim process can be a trap for the unwary. As recounted by the Mercury News, individuals seeking to claim property from the state face (at least) paperwork and (at worst) scammers that try to take some or all of the money owed to the claimant. The article recounts these problems and has a number of tips for claimants. It is worth a review for those considering filing a claim.

2016 Uniform Act News — States continue to work on legislation relating to the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.The Washington state legislature is currently considering such a bill, as are lawmakers in Nevada. and South Carolina.

Friday Lost & Found

A Roundup of Odds & Ends From the Week in Unclaimed Property

Ohio Oops — The Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds recently issued 1099 tax forms to those individuals who claimed abandoned property from the state during the prior year. Unfortunately, it appears that many of the forms were not sent to the correct individuals. Those who may be affected are encouraged to contact the Division of Unclaimed Funds for more information and a free year of identity theft protection.

Municipal Unclaimed Funds — While we focus most of our attention on unclaimed property held by state governments, municipalities and counties may also hold unclaimed property. A municipal or county government may be holding payment refunds, jury service checks, or deposit refunds for rightful owners who have not claimed those amounts. For example, CBS 58 in Milwaukee reports that Milwaukee County is holding more than $2.2 million in unclaimed funds for its residents and business partners.

2016 Uniform Act News — The Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act was released in 2016 and has been adopted in several states. Other states continue to consider getting on the bandwagon. Last week Colorado Senate Bill 88 (which would implement a version of the Uniform Act) was referred to the full state senate for consideration. At the same time, however, the Illinois legislature is considering bills to amend or repeal its early adoption of the UUPA.

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.