Accounting

GPI 009 – Search for unclaimed property; help yourself, your company and your customers!

Unclaimed property held by the States:  All of the 50 U.S. state governments held an estimated total of $56B of unclaimed property at the end of 2012.  This huge amount represented checks issued to individuals and companies within those respective states accumulated (interest free) over the past few decades that were for various reasons undeliverable.  By law, returned checks are to be forwarded to each state government to be held and disbursed until rightful owners apply for their refund.  Those owners can be living individuals, the deceased, companies (profit and non-profit) and most importantly you.

Who do these funds belong to?  Who might have monies held by your state?  You, someone in your family, or a deceased relative of yours may have funds held by your state.  Your friends may have funds held.  Your company may have monies held at the state level that you or your firm’s representatives need to claim.  These state agencies also may have property that is held for you, waiting for your official claim.

Where did this money come from?  These funds could be the result of a class action lawsuit where thousands of ex-customers are awarded dollars long after they have moved from an old address and changed to another utility, bank, credit card company or credit union.  Monies could have been received from a real estate settlement where the title company mails a check back to a participant but does not have a current address for the person or firm previously involved.  Funds could be sent to you due to overcharged insurance rates or premiums.  There are a number of sources from where these monies flow in to the state.

Do your customer a favor:  One thoughtful thing you can do at your business within your sales department is teach your sales people to look for these funds for their customers, at no charge.  Walk into your buyers’ offices and show them they can be a hero in their organization by letting their management know of money sitting waiting to be claimed.  Your salesmen can also notify new potential companies about their unclaimed funds.  Let them know they have monies owed to them at the state capital and leave them smiling at the end of your sales call.  This provides a great lead-in towards selling a new customer.

Instructions for successful searching for unclaimed property: 

  1. Google or search your state and the words “unclaimed property”. For example, in Indiana, search “Indiana Unclaimed Property”.
  2. Click on the state website that holds a search engine.
  3. Enter your company’s name.
  4. Vary the spelling for common misspellings to ensure the check is not held under a slightly different name.
  5. Some of the states allow you to search by street so try this also.
  6. A company named “The Cleaning Company” may be listed under “the”, “cleaning” or maybe “company”. Try all variations.
  7. Some search engines will find too many so you must practice searching to get an understanding how the state’s search engine works.
  8. Be sure to search unclaimed property for your individual name.
  9. Be sure to search unclaimed property in each state where your company has physical offices.
  10. Be sure to search for unclaimed property for you in each state where you have lived or owned residences or properties.
  11. Search in every state the person has lived or the company has offices or locations.
  12. Search with as few letters as possible to find the name of relatives. (i.e. Jo…smith for Joseph Smith.)
  13. Try individuals’ last names first without a first name, then add the first letter of the first name until you begin to receive results.
  14. Search for all previous maiden names.
  15. Search deceased people; estate representatives or legal heirs will have to claim these funds.
  16. Search common misspellings because many of these entries were hand typed into the system years ago.
  17. Review all similar names that do not have addresses or towns listed in the results. Look for recognizable sources such as your bank or ex-bank, your credit union or ex-credit union, an old 401K fiduciary institution, apartment complex or real estate company where you might have lived for a potential missed deposit, a familiar utility company name where you may have left a deposit.
  18. Search non-profits for last donations.

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