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UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FOCUS is a blog written by and for UPPO members, featuring diverse perspectives and insights from unclaimed property practitioners across the U.S. and Canada. We welcome your submissions to Unclaimed Property Focus. Please contact Emily Lee via emily@uppo.org or 763-253-4345 with any questions about submitting a blog post for consideration and refer to our editorial guidelines when writing your blog post. Disclaimer: Information and/or comments to this blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice on compliance or reporting requirements.

 

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UPPO Scholarship winners have big goals

Posted By Administration, 8 hours ago

For the first time, the UPPO Scholarship Program expanded this year, awarding financial assistance to two students. Announced at the Annual Conference in March, this year’s scholarship recipients are Taylor Steffans, daughter of UPPO member Heather Steffans, and Andrew Noel, son of UPPO member Charolette Noel. Each of them receives a $1,000 renewable scholarship.

 

Taylor Steffans

Taylor is a senior at the University of Iowa, graduating next month. She is enrolled to continue her studies at the university’s college of dentistry beginning in the fall. Until his retirement from dentistry eight years ago, Taylor’s grandfather was her dentist. As a result of this family connection, Taylor never developed the sense of dread that often accompanies dentist visits.

 

“I never grew up with that fear of seeing the dentist because I was going to see grandpa,” she says. “I got to see different aspects of dentistry and loved it. I also love the sciences and helping people. Getting to boost people’s confidence by giving them a good smile really attracted me to the field.”

 

As part of her preparation for dentistry school, Taylor job-shadowed several different types of dentists, including a general dentist, an orthodontist, an oral surgeon and a pediatric dentist. This experience helps ensure students are truly cut out for the profession and helps them identify their long-term goals. Taylor was especially intrigued by oral surgery and may pursue additional schooling for that specialization after her four years of training qualifying her as a general dentist.

 

As you can imagine, such schooling isn’t inexpensive. Taylor has been working while in school, waitressing and working at the college of dentistry.

 

“As I go through dental school, it’s a huge investment, which carries a very large tuition burden,” she says. “This scholarship helps reduce that burden, allowing me to have less stress about finances and focus on my studies rather than having to potentially working more on the weekends. I want to put all of my effort into becoming the best dentist I can be.”

 

In addition to her schooling and work commitments, Taylor is involved in several other activities, including participation in the Pre-Dental Club, leadership positions in the Tri Delta sorority, volunteering for the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow campus event planning group and intermural sand volleyball.

 

Andrew Noel

Andrew is a high school senior, preparing to begin college in the fall at Purdue University. He is planning to major in aerospace engineering with a goal of working for a company involved in going to Mars.

 

“I’ve really enjoyed studying space and flight, and I enjoy making new things that people haven’t seen before,” he says. “One of the best ways to do that is to see what’s out there in space. I’d like to work with a company to help them get to Mars. There are a lot of challenges in that direction that I’d really like to see accomplished. If I could help do that, it would be awesome.”

 

Andrew’s interest in space travel led him to start a rocketry club at his high school last year. The 10-member club participated this year in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. They created a model rocket designed to blast 800 feet in the air, carrying an egg as its cargo, taking off and landing within a small window of 41-43 seconds.

 

In addition to his scientific aspirations, Andrew has a longtime love of music, which he has nurtured by playing viola since the fifth grade. He plans to continue playing in college as well.

 

Andrew appreciates the financial relief provided by the scholarship and encourages other students to apply.

 

“Paying for college is a challenge for a lot of students,” he says. “This scholarship will definitely help me with that, and can help others who apply and win in the future. Every opportunity helps, so take advantage of anything that can help achieve your goals.”

 

Special thanks to this year’s corporate sponsors Barganier and Associates and Mike Ryan. UPPO members interested in supporting the scholarship are encouraged to contribute or sponsor the program. The 2018 UPPO Scholarship Program application period will occur in the fall.

 

 

Tags:  UPPO Scholarship Program 

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Uh-oh! I missed the deadline

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 20, 2017

As more companies become familiar with their unclaimed property compliance responsibilities, many are likely to find that they have obligations past due to one or more states. Barrie Saltzman, escheatment officer for CIT Group, and Jenna Fenelli, senior manager in KPMG’s state and local tax practice, provided insight into the risks of noncompliance and steps to achieve compliance during their 2017 UPPO Annual Conference session, “Uh-oh, I Missed the Deadline.”

 

Risks of Late Filing

States typically charge penalties and interest when unclaimed property is not escheated in a timely manner. For example, California charges 12 percent interest, plus $100 per day up to a $10,000 maximum for late reporting, and between $5,000 and $50,000 for late delivery. Nevada charges 18 percent interest, plus $200 per day up to a $5,000 maximum in addition to a $1,000 per day fine for willful failure, up to a maximum of $25,000 plus 25 percent of the property’s value.

 

In other words, noncompliance isn’t cheap.

 

“In addition to penalties and interest, late filers also need to consider other issues,” Fenelli says. “Filing a bunch of late properties to a state can raise a flag. If they see you’ve never filed there before and suddenly you’re filing a bunch of late accounts payable checks, they may wonder what other property hasn’t been filed and decide to perform an audit.”

 

Other risks include potential penalties for improper due diligence mailing, reputational risk and damage to customer relationships.

 

Mitigating Risks

Some states allow for extension filings. They may offer a request form, such as California’s, which is due at least 30 days before a reporting deadline. Similarly, New York requires its form submission at least 30 days before the reporting deadline along with estimated payment. Other states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont, don’t have a form but accept requests via letter.

 

“Filing for an extension is an easy process,” Saltzman says, “but you need to be aware of the timing to ensure your request will be considered for acceptance.”

 

Voluntary disclosure agreements (VDAs) provide another option for property holders wishing to come into compliance. Again, each state is different. If a state offers a VDA program, it may have a formal, well-defined process. Some, however, have less formal VDAs for first-time filing programs, by which companies send a letter with their first filing, stating that they’re coming forward in good faith, want to be in compliance, and have put measures in place to mitigate the risk from happening again.

 

“With a voluntary disclosure agreement, aside from the benefit of a penalty and interest waiver, some states will allow for the VDA lookback period to be closed off from audit,” Fenelli says. “Not having to worry about an audit from that state when coming into compliance is a great benefit.”

 

Ensuring Future Compliance

As holders work to get control over their unclaimed property compliance efforts, they should focus on several internal areas: 

  • Policies & Procedures: A corporate policy should clearly outline compliance obligations and the roles and responsibilities of the escheat department, operations, accounting, legal and others that are applicable to each specific company. Procedures should describe a step-by-step process for handling unclaimed property from the gathering of the data, securely managing it, corresponding general ledger activity, due diligence and state reporting.
  • Training: If employees aren’t trained to understand it, they usually have no idea what unclaimed property is. There needs to be ongoing training throughout the company about what constitutes unclaimed property, how to identify it and who is responsible.
  • Assigning Clear Ownership: Someone must have overall ownership for oversight of the process. The day-to-day functions may be assigned to others.
  • Centralization: By centralizing the unclaimed property function, holders ensure there is a uniform process throughout the company. They also have unclaimed property subject matter experts available to provide insight as the company changes.
  • Industry Involvement: Becoming involved in organizations like UPPO offers access to ongoing education, idea sharing, best practices and the ability to stay current with legislative updates.
  • Technology: Without using unclaimed property software, holders expose themselves to more potential mistakes. There’s way too much information to maintain manually, so the risk of missing something increases when software isn’t used to. It’s best to eliminate as much manual work as possible.

 

“If your company doesn’t have a UP [unclaimed property] program in place, you’re not alone,” Saltzman says. “There is hope, and you will get there. Coming into compliance and putting the proper procedures and processes in place will help reduce the risk of penalties and interest in the future.”

 

To help with compliance efforts, UPPO members can access the Jurisdiction Resource Guide, which provides reporting deadlines, dormancy periods by property type, due diligence letter requirements, exemptions and deductions, and other helpful information for U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions.

 

 

Tags:  compliance  unclaimed property  VDAs 

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Delaware publishes proposed examination regulations

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

As required by the recently passed Delaware S.B. 13, the secretary of finance, in consultation with the secretary of state, developed new unclaimed property examination regulations in the form of the proposed Department of Finance Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Reporting and Examination Manual. Following is an overview of the proposed regulations.

 

The guiding principles for the proposed regulations include a goal that every examination be predictable, fair and consistent. The state escheator is prohibited from establishing collection goals or quotes related to unclaimed property assessments, and contracts with third-party auditors are available by request.

 

Upon assignment of a third-party auditor to examine a holder’s books and records, both parties will enter into a confidentiality agreement before any confidential information is produced, if requested by the holder. The proposed regulations include an example of an approved confidentiality agreement.

 

Examination Process

The state is permitted to examine a holder for any reason. Examinations begin with an official examination letter from the abandoned property audit manager, notifying the holder that its books and records are subject to examination, identifying the assigned auditor and providing auditor contact information. The proposed regulations include an example of a notification letter.

 

The state is permitted to initiate an examination only on holders who previously have been notified by the secretary of state of their right to enter into a voluntary disclosure agreement (VDA) or who have failed to comply with section 1172 of the state’s unclaimed property law. The examination notice terminates the holder’s ability to enter into a VDA.

 

Holders are responsible for complying with all information requests. If a holder retains a third-party advocate to assist with the examination, the state will communicate with both the holder and the advocate.

 

Examinations are not limited to a review of work papers, compilations or record summaries prepared by the holder or the holder’s advocate. They also include access to the holder’s original books and records.

 

Opening Conference

Once an examination is assigned, an opening conference will be scheduled with the auditor and representatives of the holder. Before the opening conference, the auditor will provide the holder with a list of documents the holder must produce before or at the opening conference. These documents may include tax returns, organization charts, charts of accounts, unclaimed property filing history in all states, prior completed and accepted VDAs and examinations, and policies and procedures related to record retention, accounting, unclaimed property, or any other practices the state deems relevant.

 

During the opening conference, the auditor will:

  • Advise the holder of Delaware’s reporting requirements
  • Provide an overview of the examination process, including state-approved methodologies, record availability, sampling and the potential for projection and estimation
  • Provide an examination work plan
  • Identify the maximum time period to be covered by the examination and discuss potential scoping issues
  •  Request additional records and materials necessary to proceed with the next steps of the examination, including tax returns, unclaimed filing history for all states, bank statements, bank reconciliations, outstanding check lists, detail general ledgers, aged accounts receivable reports, and if applicable, information surrounding gift certificate issuances and redemptions

Scoping

A typical examination will not exceed 24 months. If it lasts longer, the audit manager will meet with the holder to help complete the examination. Interest and penalties may be assessed on or abated at the discretion of the state escheator.

 

Examinations may include all of the holder’s subsidiaries and related entities. Once entity scoping has been determined by the state, no additional entities may be scoped into the examination without the holder's consent. At the holder's discretion and with the consent of the state, legal entities whose acquisition began after the conclusion of entity scoping can be added to the existing examination.

 

Record Review

During the examination, the auditor will review all necessary books and records, interview key personnel and review relevant policies and procedures related to abandoned property. The auditor may make subsequent requests to the holder for additional books and records.

 

The auditor will submit record requests to the holder in writing. The auditor will also provide a reasonable timeframe for the holder to respond, based on the type and extent of the information requested and other relevant circumstances. Upon receipt of submissions received from the holder, the auditor will provide confirmation with projected response times.

 

If “applicable and practicable,” the auditor will provide to the holder:

  • The process used to determine that items are unclaimed property
  • Why documentation provided by holder is not sufficient to remediate an item
  • Support for determining the proposed assessment
  • Steps the holder can take to remediate the assessment
  • The remediation timeline

Holders will have the opportunity to review, reconcile, remediate and, where applicable under Delaware law, perform due diligence on any items that have been identified as potential unclaimed property. The auditor will verify that the holder has mailed due diligence letters to the owner’s last known address. The auditor will also provide guidance regarding the due diligence process and ensure the holder is performing the outreach within the timelines established by the state. The holder will submit all due diligence letters to the auditor for review and approval before sending them.

 

The state may, at the holder’s request or with the holder’s agreement, divide the examination by property type and year. Thus, portions of examinations may be concluded while other portions remain ongoing. The auditors will keep the holder informed of any potential for such division to expedite the examination.

 

Status Reports

The holder will be kept informed of the progress of the examination and may contact the state directly to address issues or concerns. The holder has the right to contact the state directly to address issues arising from or related to the examination, including the right to report alleged misconduct, unethical behavior or lack of professionalism by the auditor.

 

At the end of any defined portion of the examination, the auditor will present the preliminary findings to the holder. The preliminary findings identify the work performed, property types reviewed, time period reviewed, estimation techniques employed, and a calculation showing the potential amount of unclaimed property due. The auditor will allow the holder reasonable time to complete required research and gather more records to address matters raised in the preliminary findings.

 

Estimation

Delaware requires that holders retain records for a minimum of 10 years plus dormancy (15 years total for most property types). If records are unavailable for the full 10-year period, holders are expected to possess several years of dormant records. The state may use any available dormant records to estimate an unclaimed property liability for the period of time for which the holder does not possess complete and researchable records.

 

If the holder fails to retain sufficient dormant years of records, the audit manager and holder will discuss which records will be used for the base period. In the absence of an agreement, the state escheator possesses the sole authority to make a reasonable determination of the base period in order to prepare an estimate.

 

Base periods consist of complete and researchable records. To draw a representative error rate, the base periods will consist of at least three years from the available complete and researchable records. Depending on the circumstances, the state may include nondormant periods in the base periods.

 

The holder must provide to the state escheator a representation of which records are available, for which property types and what years. A false statement will be considered willful misrepresentation made with intent to mislead the state escheator.

 

Items payable to a U.S. federal department or agency will be removed from the population before review. Funds returned in the normal course of business before issuance of the examination notice will not be included in the population of potential unclaimed items.

 

When transactions for a particular property type are deemed too large of a population to be reasonably tested on an actual basis, a statistical sampling methodology will be employed. If a holder prefers to research the entire population of a given property type, the holder is permitted to do so within a reasonable time.

 

Generally, the population will be divided into strata from which samples will be drawn. For each strata, a sample size will be determined using generally accepted statistical principles such that the sample mean will be within 10 percent of the population mean for that strata at a 90 percent confidence interval. In the instance of a lower-valued stratum, where the results are generally immaterial to the overall liability, a relaxed confidence and precision level intervals may be considered.

 

In some circumstances where the holder has not maintained records for the entire examination period, the state may sample a number of entities of a holder during an examination in lieu of testing all Delaware entities. The auditors will identify an appropriate sampling of entities based on factors including revenue, line of business, commercial activity and property types being held.

 

The results will be extrapolated, if applicable, to the other appropriate Delaware entities that have not been selected for detailed review to determine the liability. The holder will be given the option to use this sampling methodology or to test all entities that fall within the scope of the examination.

 

Delaware's sampling process for estimation includes the following steps:

  • Define the population, including base period and sampling unit (e.g. aged checks or customer net credit balances) and remove potential anomalies, such as duplicate records
  •  Determine appropriate stratification, if necessary, including number of strata and stratum boundaries
  • Calculate sample size, including desired confidence and precision
  •  Perform random computerized sample selection
  • Evaluate results

If the amount of reportable property cannot be ascertained from the holder’s records, projection techniques may be used to determine the reportable amounts for such periods. Such determination shall be made by first examining records during periods in which records exist to establish a base period of data from which statistical inferences can be made for periods in which records are incomplete. To the extent permitted by law, names and addresses identified in the base period will not be used to determine which state has the priority claim to the abandoned property estimated to be due over periods where records of owners’ addresses do not exist.

 

The state must approve all sampling, projection and estimation techniques before they are used by the auditor. The state will permit the holder to suggest an alternative technique. However, the ultimate decision to employ a particular technique is at the sole discretion of the state. The holder may challenge this decision after the examination ends.

 

Remediation

Holders have the opportunity to review, reconcile, remediate and perform remediation outreach on any items that have been identified as potential unclaimed property. The form of the outreach letter must be approved by the state, and all letters must be submitted to the auditors for review and approval before they are sent. The holder must provide confirmation of the date of the outreach mailing to the auditor. The proposed regulations include a sample approved outreach letter.

 

Bankruptcy

If filing for bankruptcy before or after an examination, the holder must provide bankruptcy notification to the auditor. Within seven days of receiving the holder’s notice or the discovery of the event, the auditor will notify the state and assist the escheator in filing a proof of claim in the bankruptcy action.

 

Statement of Findings

If the audit manager determines at the conclusion of the examination that the holder failed to report or underreported the amount of unclaimed property due to the state, the state will issue a statement of findings and request for payment to the holder.

 

This letter will outline the findings of the examination and make a formal demand for the property under question. The holder has 90 days to remit any abandoned property identified during the examination as owed to the state. The holder’s appeal rights to contest all or part of the findings as outlined are triggered by the statement of findings and request for payment.

 

Comment Period

Interested parties may submit comments regarding the proposed regulations to State Escheator David Gregor at david.gregor@state.de.us by May 3, 2017. The UPPO Government Relations and Advocacy Committee (GRAC) is currently drafting comments on behalf of UPPO for submission.

 

 

Tags:  audits  compliance  Delaware  examinations  unclaimed property  VDAs 

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Meet UPPO’s 2017/2018 President

Posted By Administration, Sunday, April 9, 2017
Updated: Sunday, April 9, 2017

Carla McGlynn has a habit of saying “yes” a lot. That tendency has propelled her career, kept her involved in numerous community organizations and led to her recent induction as UPPO’s 2017/2018 president.

 

“I can’t say no,” she says. “When it comes to something I really enjoy or feel passionate about, I just don’t say no.”

 

That philosophy has proven beneficial. Following college, McGlynn began her career with Tiffany & Co., working in the Internal Audit Group. In order to create an internal audit manual, her job rotated through the company’s various financial departments—accounts receivable, cost accounting, payroll and tax. She developed an interest in tax and the company saw her potential in that area, so that’s where she stayed. When the company suggested she pursue a master’s degree in tax, she said yes.

 

During her post-graduate studies, McGlynn was offered a job by her state & local tax professor who worked for Deloitte. Again, she said yes. While at Deloitte, none at the firm handled unclaimed property consulting for clients yet, but the need was becoming apparent. When members of the tax team were asked if anyone had any unclaimed property experience, McGlynn raised her hand, as she had gained some knowledge of it during her work at Tiffany & Co. One of Deloitte’s partners asked her to develop and lead  the firm’s unclaimed property practice in the New York tri-state area.

 

“They had a vision, saw an opportunity and felt I could handle it, so I did,” she says. “It came at a time early in my career. Normally you’re not given that opportunity as a senior staff in a major firm. I am so grateful they gave me the opportunity.”

 

In 2001, McGlynn moved to Ernst & Young, where she worked until they disbanded  the unclaimed property practice in 2004. After working at a specialty consulting firm, Abandoned Property Services LLC (APS), for six years, she formed Unclaimed Property Consulting & Reporting LLC, and joined by other talented unclaimed property professionals, they have been helping the holder community since 2010.

 

“I love working with companies that don’t have an unclaimed property process, helping them establish one and then seeing management recognize the need to hire a person or two to focus on unclaimed property compliance going forward,” she says. “Being involved in a company adding positions to focus on compliance and maintain compliance is very rewarding.”

 

Shortly after moving to APS, McGlynn began her involvement with UPPO. At the 2006 annual conference, recognizing how important the event’s education was to unclaimed property professionals, she volunteered to become a member of the Professional Development Committee. She eventually chaired the committee and oversaw the organization’s annual conference and holder seminars for three years, developing the agenda and content, finding speakers and organizing the events.

 

It didn’t take long for fellow UPPO members to encourage her to run for the UPPO Board of Directors. It’s no surprise that she again said yes. She campaigned for and became secretary for two terms and then repeated the process to become second vice president, progressing through the officer chairs of first vice president in 2016 and president this year.

 

McGlynn’s presidency comes during an exciting time for the unclaimed property community and UPPO. She is excited to continue growing the association’s education and professional development program, working toward an expansion of the certification program. Membership growth is another major initiative. Bringing more people into UPPO gives the organization a greater ability to develop more educational programs and gives our advocacy efforts a louder voice. In fact, McGlynn sees advocacy as UPPO’s most exciting initiative during her term.  

 

“Many states are making changes to their unclaimed property laws to make them more relevant to the current times and today’s technology,” she says. “Having a really big voice on behalf of our holder community as the states make those changes is so beneficial. As soon as states begin talking about enacting something affecting holders, the Government Relations and Advocacy Committee is immediately involved to give the holder community a voice. That makes a huge impact.”

 

With UPPO playing such an important role in the professional lives of members, McGlynn is honored to serve as its president this year.

 

“UPPO has been a huge influence in my development as an unclaimed property professional,” she says. “I am thankful for this opportunity to give back to UPPO and you, the members of this outstanding organization.”

 

When she’s not focusing on unclaimed property, McGlynn is still driven by her habit of saying yes. She volunteers for the Berkley Heights Education Foundation, which raises funds to provide educational programs and technology to the six schools in her New Jersey community. She also currently serves as vice president of the parent-teacher organization at the high school attended by her two daughters, and is Eucharistic minister coordinator at her church.

 

So, what drives McGlynn’s heavy involvement in her profession and her community?

 

“I am a first-generation American citizen,” she says. “I came here when my parents emigrated from Portugal in the 1970s and have taken advantage of every opportunity America offers. I am the first member of my family to get a college degree and post-graduate degree. Everything I receive, I try to give back in any way I can.”

 

 

Tags:  unclaimed property 

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UPPO Asks: How Do You Train Someone New to Unclaimed Property?

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 17, 2017

Periodically, UPPO asks members to respond to a question, sharing their ideas, insights, and experience. The recurring UPPO Asks feature is a compilation of their responses.

 

We recently asked several members: How do you train someone new to unclaimed property? 

 

“We basically walk through the overall process with the employee and familiarize them with the software that we use for compliance. The first year, the process is handled with me as manager, and each time a task comes up, I will share with the employee. The next time another state becomes due, I will allow the employee to process the task on their own, but I always check the work before any mailings or filings have occurred. Once we get to the October filing states, I will relieve the employee of most of the other job duties to allow for the large volume. As states are completed, I will check the work again for accuracy and go through any corrections with the employee. Since I am the manager of the department, I will contact the CFO to sign all the required reports and obtain the notary acknowledgement, and pass back to the employee to complete the mailing.

 

“Then, we relax for a couple of months and start all over again! The second year, I place more responsibility on the employee to complete the tasks, but I always check the work before any reports are released or filed.”—Sherri Moll, unclaimed property manager, CountryMark

 

 

“Over the years, I have developed a comprehensive training guide for new staff that encompasses three areas of knowledge: background of unclaimed property laws, the services we offer clients and value added, and technical skills required of the position. Being a service provider, I believe the depth of training is much more involved, as practitioners require a greater understanding of the nuances involved across industries. I also encourage unclaimed property case studies and schedule a follow-up training shortly thereafter (two to four weeks) and recap the highlights discussed. As with anything, repetition is key.”—Christopher Jensen, director of abandoned and unclaimed property compliance, Ryan

 

 

“Our Unclaimed Property department is actually split into two: the Daily group and the Compliance group. The Daily group processes customer requested refunds and auto refunds in a proactive attempt to keep records clean and prevent unclaimed property. Our Compliance group handles state reporting. Training is slightly different for each group. 

“The Daily group is given an overview on our accounts receivable, cash applications and credit department processes. The group is trained on the transaction codes they will see in the system and how to handle a credit based on the customer's overall account. They are provided with criteria that credits need to meet for processing an auto refund and criteria that customer requested refunds also need to meet. They are given a high-level explanation of the compliance processes. 

“The compliance group is trained on the transaction codes they see in customers AR history in the system and how to handle a credit based on the customer's overall account. The group has a template that is used for all state reports to ensure the detail is consistent, researchable and accurate. The template also assists with accounting comparisons and tracking all other property types that fall into unclaimed property dormancy. The compliance analysts attend webinars to stay up to date with best practices and the ever-changing legislation. 

“Both sides of our UP department have SOPs and checklists to reference as they go through processes and procedures. These are updated regularly.”—Tiffany Kevek, unclaimed property supervisor, Uline

 

Now it’s your turn. How to you train some new to unclaimed property? Add a comment to this post to share your response.

 

Tags:  training  unclaimed property  UPPO Asks 

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