Showing posts from September, 2011

Ohio AG Signals Potential End to Dispute Over Interest

Ohio citizens who have claimed abandoned property from the state in recent years may soon be closer to collecting interest on those amounts.  In some jurisdictions, the state does not have to pay interest on unclaimed property claims, notwithstanding the fact that the state earns interest on the money while it has custody of the funds.  In 1991, for example, the Ohio Unclaimed Property Act was amended to provide that interest was no longer payable to owners claiming property to the state.  In 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled  that the new law denying interest was unconstitutional.  In so doing, the court reasoned that noted that the Ohio Unclaimed Property Act was custodial in nature -- in other words, the state takes custody of , but not legal title to the funds.  The Ohio Supreme Court's 2009 decision , however, did not end the case.  The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower court for additional proceedings. Some consumers have (understandably) gotten a littl

Unclaimed Property Crime Blotter V - This Time, it's an Inside Job

Welcome to another installment of Escheatable 's Unclaimed Property Crime Blotter .  This probably doesn't come as a surprise to most, but because the states are holding on to millions of dollars in unclaimed property on behalf of missing, deceased, unknown, or forgetful owners, some less than scrupulous people think that there is an opportunity to make some easy money.  Many file false claims.  Others take advantage of the relationships with others who have valid claims to make a buck.  Sometimes, it's (allegedly) an inside job: According to Fox 23 of Tulsa, Oklahoma , a former employee of the State Treasurer's office is charged with stealing unclaimed property held by the state  on at least three occasions.  According to the article , the accused conspired with others to make, process, and collect false claims paid out by the state's unclaimed property program.  A copy of the full indictment is available from the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office .

Washington Sets Owner Reunification Records

According to a press release  from the Washington Department of Revenue, that state's unclaimed property department paid out a record amount of claims (over 100,000) in Fiscal Year 2011.  According to the Department of Revenue, that record breaking performance was due "in part to a sharp increase in the number of businesses reporting unclaimed property to the state."  Regular readers may remember that just a few weeks ago, we mentioned that  Nevada  also broke its previous records for amounts remitted and claims paid. To see if you or your company has funds that are being held by the State of Washington, you can visit the Department of Revenue website  here .

Wisconsin State Treasury Taking Steps to Increase "Unclaimed Property Awareness"

According to a post  on the blog of Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller , the Treasury is undertaking various efforts to get Badger State holders "on board the compliance train."  In particular, the Unclaimed Property Unit has published the 2011 Holder Reporting Guide  and has sent postcards to over 13,000 Wisconsin businesses. Later this year, the Unclaimed Property Unit plans to post a variety of educational videos, and to host compliance webinars.  For more information or to express interest in these offerings, check out the Treasurer's  blog  or the Unclaimed Property Unit's  homepage .

Meet Your Escheator: South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis M. Loftis, Jr.

Welcome to the second installment of Escheatable's "Meet Your Escheator" feature, where we provide interviews and commentary by state unclaimed property officials.  This time, we are thrilled to have  South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis M. Loftis, Jr.   Treasurer Loftis took over South Carolina's  "Palmetto Payback " unclaimed property program earlier this year and is also responsible for the state government's finances, as well as South Carolina's state 529 plans.  The Palmetto Payback website provides a wealth of information about the program, including FAQs for both  owners and  holders .  South Carolina has also embraced social media, providing information on Facebook , on Twitter ( @TreasurerLoftis) and by participating in interviews with world-class unclaimed property blogs :)  We are grateful for the Treasurer's time and efforts to provide this information.   1.   By way of introduction, can you give us an overview of your backgro

West Virginia's Treasurer Pens Op-Ed on Unclaimed Property Auctions

As you may know, not all unclaimed property is money.  Every year, thousands of safe-deposit boxes are abandoned, and their contents -- jewelry, coins, gold (of various kinds ) and some more . . . unique items -- get sent to unclaimed property offices throughout the country.  We've made brief mention of these auctions before, but recently, West Virginia State Treasurer John D. Purdue wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Charleston Gazette explaining both the process, and the reasons for it.  While it is easy to assume that the state holds these auctions so that items don't just collect dust in storage areas, Treasurer Purdue explains some of the other benefits of the auction program:  "Opening this process up to bidders nationwide offers a better sale prospect for the property owner. It increases the chances a serious collector might come across the item and appreciate its value. And whatever the item generates remains in the account owner's name while we continue looki

Programming Note: Meet Your Eschator Coming Wednesday

We are pleased to announce that we will be posting our second installment of "Meet Your Escheator" -- Escheatable 's interviews with state unclaimed property administrators -- this coming Wednesday.  In case you missed it, our first interview was with Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel .  Be sure to check on Wednesday, for our newest Q&A with South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis M. Loftis, Jr.

Unclaimed Property in British Columbia, Canada

We've mentioned unclaimed property held in Canada  before, but a recent article  by James Kwantes in The Vancouver Sun  has a good deal of information on unclaimed property held in the Canadian province of British Columbia (Canada, like the U.S., has a federal government , and unclaimed property is governed by the laws of each individual province).  The situation in British Columbia is quite unique in that a foundation - The British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society  - not the government, has been administering the provincial unclaimed property program since 2003. According to the article  (which is well worth a read), the Society is currently holding over $90 million in funds, including some dating as far back as 1859 (even though BC did not become a province until 11 years later ).

West Virginia Treasurer to Offer Holder Workshop

West Virginia's (and many other states') unclaimed property reporting and remittance date is upcoming on October 31st.  If any unclaimed property holders have reporting questions, the West Virginia Treasury Department has answers.  In particular, the Treasurer's Office is hosting an Unclaimed Property Holder Workshop  on October 12 in South Charleston, West Virginia.  Have your last-minute questions answered.  Details for the workshop can be found on the Treasury's website.

Another Record-Breaking Year for Nevada's Unclaimed Property Department

According to an article in the Record-Courier of Nevada, the Nevada State Treasurer, Unclaimed Property Division set a number of records last year with respect to unclaimed property.  According to the Record-Courier, the Treasurer's office transferred more than $83 million in unclaimed property collections to the state's general fund.  Not only did Nevada reach a record high in collections, however, it paid out more than $32.8 million in claims -- another state record. If recent trends are any indication, these records may not stand for very long.  Nevada's previous records for transfer to the state's general fund ($66 million) and paid claims ($25.3 million) were both set last year.

UP Police Blotter: Wisconsin Lawyer Charged With Unclaimed Property Fraud

According to an article by Aaron Martin on , a Wisconsin lawyer faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000 for trying to fraudulently claim more than half a million dollars in unclaimed property. According to the article, the dishonest lawyer (no, that's not redundant) -- "targeted mortgage foreclosure cases in which foreclosed homeowners failed to collect surplus funds generated from homes being sold in sheriff's auctions." This spotlights one type of unclaimed property that is very likely to increase for the next couple of years -- proceeds from sheriffs' sales.  In light of the huge uptick in foreclosures arising from the current financial crisis, many defaulted properties are sold by Sheriffs' sale -- a public auction (generally conducted by the county sheriffs' office - hence the name) at which the property is sold to pay off the outstanding mortgages.  Sometimes, however, the amount that the property sells for i

New York Controller Goes On TV To Talk About Unclaimed Property

Recently, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli appeared on ABC's Good Morning America to talk about unclaimed funds held by the Empire State .  According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle , the New York Office of Unclaimed Funds was able to locate approximately $44,000 for the crew and staff of Good Morning America (video here). Of course, even for those not on TV, you can search for money held by New York State by visiting the website of the New York Office of Unclaimed Funds here .