Unclaimed Funds – The Great Florida Treasure Hunt

With record unemployment, the growing popularity of food stamps, emergency cash assistance, and government subsidies, more and more people are turning to the Internet in search of lost or forgotten money.  With over $33 billion in unclaimed funds nationwide, the fastest growing search terms on Google and Yahoo have been “unclaimed money” and “missing money.” 

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink reminds Floridians of an online claims system making it easier to recover funds held in the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.  Now holding in excess of $1 billion, the unclaimed property comes from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings.  Unclaimed property also includes tangible items such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes.

Since the program’s inception 49 years ago, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property has successfully reunited owners or heirs of deceased owners with more than $1.4 billion in unclaimed property held in Florida.  Accounting for almost 45 percent of the money returned since the start of the program, CFO Alex Sink has successfully reunited owners, heirs and businesses with more than $630 million during her tenure.  In fact, almost $45 million in unclaimed property was returned in the months of February and March alone.

 “In these tough economic times it’s important that Floridians account for every dollar,” said CFO Sink. “I encourage all Floridians to visit our web site at www.FLTreasureHunt.org. With nearly nine million accounts, the chances are good we are holding cash or property for you, your business, or someone you know.”

In less than a minute you can determine whether you or a deceased relative is entitled to unclaimed funds or property in Florida.  For more information and to check if you are owed unclaimed funds, visit the Bureau of Unclaimed Property’s website at www.FLTreasureHunt.org or call toll-free (888) 258-2253.  If you find a match and believe the property is yours, an online claim form can be completed, printed, and mailed with supporting documentation for immediate processing.  You have the right to claim your property at any time and without cost.  Although there is no statute of limitations on making a claim, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property does not pay interest on accounts.

Florida is not the only state that has an unclaimed property bureau.  Forty states participate in a program officially endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, an organization that proactively seeks owners of missing and unclaimed property.   At www.MissingMoney.com  or www.Unclaimed.org you can quickly determine whether you are entitled to unclaimed funds by clicking on a participating state and entering your name.  Be sure to search each state that you have resided and under every name you have used.  Also search for deceased family members as heirs are sometimes very surprised to learn what has been left behind by their dearly departed.

A word to the wise when searching for unclaimed funds or property – most states, including Florida – do not charge a fee to recover unclaimed property.  There is no reason to pay a search firm for something you can do yourself in mere minutes at zero cost.  If you are approached by company advising that they have located property in your name and will process a claim on your behalf, politely decline and search the bureau registry yourself.

Some of the more notable Floridians the Bureau of Unclaimed Property are holding funds for:  Congresswoman Corrine Brown, former US Senator Mel Martinez, former Miami Dolphin Dan Marino, Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and Florida Attorney General candidates Dan Gelber and Pam Bondi.

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune.  http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/may/17/unclaimed-funds-great-florida-treasure-hunt/news-newbusiness/


William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.

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