Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lost & Found: Illinois Auctions, Indiana Scams, Arkansas Awards, and Spring Training Switch

Illinois Unclaimed Property Action -- Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford announced that the state is putting more than 15,000 items of unclaimed property up for auction.  The auction begins on Monday, March 26th and winds up on April 1.  (WREX NBC 13).

Unclaimed Funds in the Big Leagues -- Yahoo! Sports blog Big League Stew has an amusing story about Arizona Diamondbacks minor league baseball player Adam Eaton who, to his surprise, recently received 6 checks from the Major League Baseball Licensing program for $20,000 each.  What did professional baseball player Adam Eaton do to deserve this cash?  He has the same name as [former] professional baseball player Adam Eaton, a 10-year major league pitcher who played for the Orioles, Phillies, Padres & Rockies.  (Big League Stew).

More Unclaimed Property Scams -- This time, it's Indiana.  According to the NW Indiana Times, the Indiana Attorney General's Office is warning of an unclaimed property scam whereby a the scammers say they need an upfront fee to claim property from the state on the victim's behalf.  You NEVER have to pay an upfront fee to collect money from state unclaimed property offices.  (Then again, if you are reading an unclaimed property blog, you probably knew that).  (NWI Times).

Arkansas Unclaimed Property Website Wins Award -- At the recent national conference of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization, the website of State Auditor Charlie Daniels (this one, not this one) won the UPPO's award (an UPPY?) for best state website.  The Award Winning Website of the Arkansas State Auditor can be found here(KARK News).

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Jersey Takes Another Step Forward (Backward?) (Sideways?)

On Friday, we noted that Assembly Bill 1871 -- which would undo entirely 2010's gift card legislation -- was coming up for a vote soon.  That vote actually took place on Friday, and the bill passed the legislature by a comfortable margin.  The bill will now proceed to the State Senate, and then (maybe) to the Governor.  Under the revised legislation, the dormancy period for travelers' checks would be increased (back) to 15 years, the dormancy period for money orders would be increased (back) to 7 years, and stored value cards would be exempt from reporting and delivery entirely.

We will continue to follow the legislation.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lost & Found: NAUPA Workshop, New Jersey Considers About Face

NAUPA to Hold Holder Workshop & Forum -- The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (the organization for the folks that run state unclaimed property offices) is sponsoring a National Holder Workshop & Forum this May in Albequerqe  Albuquerke Central New Mexico.  A listing of some of the topics being offered can be found here

New Jersey Assembly to Vote on Gift Card Reversal -- We've spent a great deal of time over the past year or so covering New Jersey's gift card legislation, the resulting lawsuit, and the eventual appellate court decision upholding some parts of the law, and striking down others.  Was it all for naught?  We'll soon find out.  According to NJBIZ the State Assembly is close to bringing A.B. 1721 to a vote, which would basically undo all of the gift card, money order, and traveler's check changes made by the 2010 legislation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

South Dakota Shortens Dormancy Periods (But Gives Less Notice to Owners)

Last week, the Governor of South Dakota signed House Bill 1270 into law.  This legislation shortens the dormancy period for most property types under South Dakota law from 5 years to 3 years.  Despite the trend toward shortening the dormancy period for travelers' checks, however, the new law leaves the 15 year dormancy period intact for these items.

In addition, while the new law will increase (at least, in the short term) the amount of property collected by the state, the new law reduces the state's obligation to give notice to owners of unclaimed property.  Specifically, the new legislation reduces the number of published notices to owners from two to one, and now only requires that items having a value of $250 or over (up from $50) must be included. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Florida Warns of Unclaimed Property Scam

According to an article by Daniel Vasquez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Florida Department of Financial Services (which runs the state's unclaimed property program) is warning of a scam by an agency calling itself the "Florida Department of Financial Restitution."  According to the article, the Department warns that the fake agency is asking for $600 to recover unclaimed property from the state.

As a reminder, if you are ever asked for payment in order to obtain "unclaimed" money from the state, get as much info as you can from the person requesting the money, then contact your state's (legitimate) unclaimed property office.  Links to the legitimate sites can be found through your state's homepage, or the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Think Outside the Box When Looking for Unclaimed Property

The Denver Post had an article yesterday by Aaron LaPedis about "overlooked" sources of unclaimed funds.  Aside from the usual advice about checking the unclaimed property offices of the several states, the article also mentions other resources such as the IRS, U.S. Department of Treasury and the Veterans Administration.  The article also contains some tips from Mary Pitman, who wrote a book on claiming unclaimed property (see the article for details).

While much of the advice will not be new to those in the unclaimed property field, Ms. Pitman also alluded to one of the "secrets" of unclaimed property claiming when she said:  "if you don't search exactly the way it's listed, you'll never find the money."  While that principle seems simple enough, it is one that is often overlooked by those searching for unclaimed funds.  When looking for unclaimed funds, therefore, it is not enough to check under the name that should be listed on the check, insurance policy, CD, etc., but also those names that reasonably could be on the unclaimed item.

For example, if you have a multi-word company name that is often shortened to its initials or some other shortened name, make sure to check all of the derivations.  If, for instance, you work for a law firm called Bendini, Lambert & Locke, you should check not only that name, but "BL&L," "Bendini Lambert," "The Bendini Law Firm," etc.  Note, even if you are under strict orders from the marketing department to never use a shortened name ("We are the Amalgamated Bakery & Cookie Company, NOT ABC Co.") you should still check these names.  The point here is not what you call your company, but what name others use.  For individuals, this means checking under nicknames, former names, maiden names, etc.

Taking things a step further, you should also think about what others might have accidentally written on the unclaimed item.  For example, is your last name "Damen" but people are always spelling it "Damon"? (hat tip to Get edited. for the example).  Better check both.  And, you're probably in for more trouble if your company has the words "Collectible," "Immediate," "Maintenance," or "Jewelry" as these are among the 100 most misspelled words in the English language.

Happy Claiming!