State Tries New Method to Return Your Property

We see those lengthy listings each year of people and businesses owed money by the state of Indiana. Now, Indiana is joining 38 others in a high-tech approach to reuniting Hoosiers with their dollars or unclaimed property.

The partnership is between the Indiana Attorney General’s office and Xerox’s MissingMoney.com, the comprehensive database of governmental unclaimed property records endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

Indiana aims to return $420 million worth of unclaimed property to more than one million people and businesses. The property ranges from uncashed paychecks, stocks, mutual funds and bonds, to insurance policies, utility deposits, bank accounts and safe deposit box contents. Indiana is the 39th state to partner with MissingMoney.com to reunite owners with their unclaimed property.

Joining MissingMoney.com is Indiana’s latest effort to spread the word about its unclaimed property and ease the process of returning funds to rightful owners. MissingMoney.com is the only website that works with U.S. states and Canadian provinces to help people quickly locate and claim amounts ranging from $50 to six figures at no cost.

“Surprising as it may seem, it’s easy to lose track of money. We help states like Indiana reunite residents with the nearly $42 billion in unclaimed property being held by state unclaimed property programs,” said David G. Lemoine, managing director, Finance and Revenue Solutions for Government and Transportation Solutions at Xerox.

Through its partnership with NAUPA, MissingMoney.com offers users a single, comprehensive search of its database of more than 65 million individual and business names across multiple states and provinces. Data is refreshed daily and new unclaimed properties are added weekly.

“Last year, Attorney General Greg Zoeller and our Unclaimed Property staff set a new state record by paying out more than $60 million in claims,” said Indiana Unclaimed Property Director Bill Fulton. “We’re looking forward to reuniting even more Hoosiers with their lost and forgotten funds in 2014 — and MissingMoney.com will help with that mission.”

Don’t Fight the Law; Comply With It

Some people hear the term attorney general and they immediately fear negative consequences. Yes, the office undeniably carries out certain legal duties. But, in this case, the AG is offering help to many businesses that are unknowingly breaking the unclaimed property law.

BizVoice magazine offers this column explaining the current amnesty program. Below is information from the AG’s office regarding free education sessions that will help you play by the rules.

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General will offer three free unclaimed property reporting education sessions in June that will provide the essentials of reporting and compliance for office managers, accounting practitioners, and other legal and financial professionals responsible for the unclaimed property function in their organizations. Sessions will last approximately one hour, with additional Q&A time at the end. Attendees will have the opportunity to refresh their knowledge, clarify questions about the amnesty program, be advised of new legislative changes and learn new software tools.

The agenda will include:

  • Introduction to unclaimed property: basic definitions and rules of jurisdiction

  • Identifying unclaimed property: property types, dormancy periods and effective due diligence

  • Preparing your report: registration, common reporting errors and advantages of electronic reporting

Sessions will take place at the Indiana Government Center from 10-11 a.m. Dates are June 2 (conference room 2), June 9 (conference room 4) and June 16 (conference room 2). Participants must RSVP no later than 48 hours prior to each session. Once registered (include preferred date in subject title) with [email protected], you will receive a confirmation e-mail with additional information. Include attendee name(s), title, company, phone number and e-mail in your registration message.

States Eye Unclaimed Property for Additional Revenue

Looking for ways to deal with greatly reduced tax collections, states are focusing on their unclaimed property statutes as a potential source of revenue. States are discovering that by changing their laws they can increase what escheats to the state coffers. Changes like expanding the definition of what constitutes "unclaimed property," shortening the period for owners to claim it and limiting recovery options result in more of the property going to the state (and less to the owners).

It is estimated that states collectively hold $33 billion in unclaimed property. Delaware expects to collect $380 million in 2009. So it is no wonder that struggling states are tempted to grab what they can in these disconcerting developments.