Monday, August 4, 2014

Unclaimed Property Postcard Scams Abound

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.