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Unclaimed Property Focus
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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 Tim Dressen via 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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Preliminary GAO Report: DMF Matching Not An Exact Science

Posted By Guest Author - Marcella Easly, Senior Compliance Officer, Unclaimed Property Consulting & Reporting, Sunday, June 16, 2013
Updated: Friday, June 14, 2013
Life insurance companies in eight states are working diligently to comply with new laws requiring beneficiary identification using the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF). But a new report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) exposes flaws in this new approach due to the shortcomings of the DMF as a resource.

The GAO report raises concerns about the accuracy and completeness of the DMF, and questions whether the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) procedures for verifying death reports may allow for erroneous information in the DMF, making it more difficult for insurance companies to comply with state laws.

The state DMF comparison requirement laws are based on a model law created in 2011 by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) that mandates the use of the DMF as a cross-reference against an insurer’s list of in-force life insurance policies and retained asset accounts. According to the model law, once decedents have been identified and confirmed, insurers must make a good-faith effort to locate any beneficiaries, while providing the necessary claim forms and instructions.

However, the GAO report highlights several discrepancies within DMF records that may prove problematic for insurance companies trying to locate beneficiaries:

  • The SSA does not verify deaths for individuals who are not receiving Social Security benefits.
  • The partial DMF available to the public omits roughly ten percent of deaths; 87 million names for the partial DMF versus 98 million names for the full DMF, and the gap continues to widen. Relying on the DMF, federal agencies made an estimated $108 billion in improper payments in 2012 alone.
  • The SSA does not collect data on the number of deaths reported from credible sources, such as states using the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS), versus less credible sources like funeral directors and family members. Only 35 states report deaths using the EDRS.
  • The SSA does not guarantee the accuracy of the DMF, which may result in insurance companies spending time and money to identify individuals who are not entitled to benefits.

As more states consider similar "DMF matching” laws, further study by the GAO (which is due to issue a full report on DMF accuracy later in 2013) may help state lawmakers get a more complete picture of the issue.

UPPO members can follow this topic by subscribing to weekly govWATCH legislative updates and participating in ongoing educational opportunities, such as the ongoing Members as Mentors webinar series taking place every month.

UPPO members and non-members can also learn more DMF matching, plus dozens of other topics, at the annual UPPO Holders Seminar, August 14-15, 2013 in Chicago. Register today and receive an early-bird discount.

Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF)

Tags:  Advocacy  Compliance  Due Diligence  Reporting  UP Laws 

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Objections to CA A.B. 1275

Posted By Guest Author - Ethan D. Millar, Partner, Alston and Bird, Wednesday, June 12, 2013

California A.B. 1275, which passed the Assembly on May 9, 2013 and which was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee today (June 11, 2012), proposes to amend Section 1540 of the California Code of Civil Procedure to eliminate claims by persons with an "interest in” unclaimed property and to limit such claims to a person who was the legal owner of the property immediately prior to its escheat (with some exceptions for heirs, guardians, etc.).

We understand that this bill was primarily intended to eliminate the ability of creditors of the property owners from claiming such property, in response to the California Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Weingarten Realty Investors v. Chiang, 212 Cal.App.4th 163 (2012). However, the bill goes much further, by restricting property owners from assigning their rights in property that has been escheated (regardless of whether the property owner is aware of such escheatment).

UPPO has sent a letter to the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee (as well as the State Controller, who is pushing this legislation) objecting to A.B. 1275 on the basis that it is contrary to the primary purpose of state unclaimed property laws (which are designed to return missing property to the rightful owner, and not to interfere with the owner’s rights) as well as other laws (such as the UCC) that were intended to facilitate these sorts of assignments, which are common in business transactions. UPPO also made several other comments to this proposed legislation, including that A.B. 1275 would result in greater non-uniformity by amending a standard provision in the Uniform Unclaimed Property Acts that has been adopted by most states.

 The analysis and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization or its officers, directors or members. This summary document provides background information and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

Tags:  Advocacy  Compliance  Policy  UP Laws 

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Ontario Seeks More Feedback on Proposed Unclaimed Property Law

Posted By Karen Anderson, Senior Vice President, Unclaimed Property Recovery and Reporting, LLC, Sunday, June 9, 2013

In announcing budget objectives for the 2012 Ontario Budget, provincial officials indicated the Ontario government would establish a program to reunite owners with unclaimed intangible property, and for the government of Ontario to hold such property for the benefit of Ontarians unless and until the property is claimed. To this end, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General asked for written comments last fall on the proposed "Unclaimed Intangible Property Program.” The Ministry provided a "consultation” document including background information and questions the Ministry requested be addressed and submitted by responders no later than October 19, 2012.

Recently, the Ontario Ministry notified stakeholders that they would seek additional feedback during a series of round table meetings in Toronto, beginning with an industry specific "retail” round table on Monday, June 10. Four other meetings have been scheduled:

  1. Municipal – June 11
  2. Insurance – June 14
  3. Financial Services – (Other than Insurance) – June 17
  4. Others (Legal, Not-for-Profit, etc.) – June 18

In addition, the Ministry has indicated that it also will accept written comment submissions at this time.

The Ontario Government is using the "Unclaimed Intangible Property Act” (CUUPA) as the basis for discussion and for their potential law. This "model” law was created by the Uniform Law Commission of Canada and has some provisions, which are similar to those in state unclaimed property laws. The CUUPA, like unclaimed property laws in the United States, has defined dormancy periods for typical property types (five years for most, three years for others such as gift certificates, one year for wages) and due diligence, reporting and remitting requirements. Under the CUUPA, the reporting deadline is in the Spring (around April 30th), the due diligence minimum is "less than $100,” and the due diligence notice must be delivered at least three months but not more than six months prior to meeting the reporting deadline. It is recognized in the language of the CUUPA and in the drafters’ comments that the jurisdictional basis for the provincial laws will differ from the state laws, which derive jurisdiction from the U.S. Supreme Court decision Texas v. New Jersey.

UPPO is in contact with the appropriate officials in the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. Through the Government Relations and Advocacy Committee (GRAC), UPPO will not only monitor the Ministry’s progress but also will provide Ontario officials with comments regarding the development of the proposed law. UPPO members who want more information about the round table meetings and/or would like to register to attend them should contact the Ministry’s John Lee at or 416-326-5114, or Rosemary Logan at or 416-326-2515.

U.S. Uniform Unclaimed Property Act
UPPO govWATCH - Legislative Monitoring

The analysis and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization or its officers, directors or members. This summary document provides background information and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

Tags:  Advocacy  Due Diligence  education  Members  UP Laws 

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Look It Up: Locating Unclaimed Property Owners in the Information Age

Posted By Administration, Sunday, June 2, 2013
Updated: Sunday, June 2, 2013

By John Waite, Chief Operating Officer, Boomerang Asset Recovery

The Internet and access to many different forms of data has fundamentally changed the way unclaimed property professionals can locate and contact apparent property owners and heirs, making the due diligence process easier than ever before. However, while information is abundant and readily accessible, the key to simplifying this procedure is knowing how to seek the right type of data and avoid common anomalies that can complicate searches.

One of the most frequent problems with online searches occurs if an apparent owner’s name or account information is inaccurate when retrieved from a specific source. For example, I recently received a notification letter regarding unclaimed assets from an insurance company, but the letter was addressed to "John White,” not "John Waite.” This was most likely retrieved from an old catalog mailing list which listed my name incorrectly. Even the smartest online search tools can’t account for name misspellings and other recording errors, so it’s important for holders to understand the data and develop customized databases and algorithms to account for these discrepancies.

Locating beneficiaries for insurance proceeds, inheritance and other forms of unclaimed personal property may be especially problematic for holders, particularly smaller companies who lack the resources to spend copious amounts of time searching public records or the IT resources to create custom solutions. Pay-per-search database services – such as Accurant and Lexis-Nexis –allow holders to "rent” their data in order to find relatives or locate people who have moved based on last known address, but for many smaller companies, the cost can be prohibitive.

For small companies, manual searches using public information may be helpful in obtaining apparent owners’ contact information, but this method may be too time-consuming and expensive for large companies with large amounts of potential escheatable property. Companies that do not have the internal resources or funds to perform this function in house can engage a service provider that can handle the process. Their experience in performing searches can help in reducing the amount of property escheated by tracking down the rightful owner.

As technology and data advancements continue, and companies develop and improve proprietary software specifically for use in unclaimed property compliance, the industry could one day do away with hard copy due diligence letters altogether. Future solutions could employ online notification and verification systems (as many financial service institutions already do) to determine identity using information only the rightful owners would know, such as mother’s maiden name, etc. This would eliminate a very time-consuming part of the process for holders and could help improve response rates, allowing more apparent owners to retrieve their property before it escheats to the state.

The UPPO website has links and resources for holders seeking unclaimed property owners. Members also get preferred access to ongoing learning opportunities that can help holders find rightful property owners quickly and efficiently.

UPPO members and non-members can also learn more about locating apparent owners of unclaimed property, plus dozens of other topics, at the annual UPPO Holders Seminar, August 14-15, 2013 in Chicago. Register today and receive an early-bird discount.

UPPO Member Resources
2013 Holders Seminar


Tags:  Compliance  Due Diligence  education  Service Providers 

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2013 Holders Seminar offers world class training for unclaimed property professionals

Posted By Administration, Sunday, May 26, 2013

Most unclaimed property professionals begin their career by accident. Regardless of intended career path, they were assigned the task of "handling unclaimed property” for their organization and then found themselves needing to "figure things out” as quickly as possible. One thing discovered very quickly is that unclaimed property compliance is confusing and complex and they need help!

Recognizing the need for unclaimed property education, the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization (UPPO) developed its Holders Seminar to provide education for both the basic and intermediate learners. As a one day seminar, it is designed to provide in-depth information is a very condensed period of time. In addition to networking with peers from other companies engaged in unclaimed property reporting, attendees will learn about returning property to its rightful owner, communicating with state unclaimed property representatives, leveraging technological innovations and provides the opportunity to meet with service providers.

In addition, this year’s Holders Seminar will include a session on unclaimed property reform, discussing recent activities by the ABA and ULC to revise the uniform unclaimed property act. UPPO has supported certain unclaimed property reforms and this session is designed to discuss specific areas where reform is likely to focus. It will also provide attendees the opportunity to provide input and feedback regarding areas of importance for their organization and/or industry.

We invite you to join us in Chicago, August 14-15 for the 2013 Holders Seminar. Please review the packed agenda and register to take advantage of the Early Bird rate.


The analysis and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization or its officers, directors or members. This summary document provides background information and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.  

Tags:  Compliance  Due Diligence  education  UP101 

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