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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 tim@uppo.org 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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Unclaimed Property News Roundup

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Unclaimed property often makes news headlines beyond the frequent reports of states trying to return money to their citizens. Following is a recap of some recent stories getting news coverage from local and national media outlets. 

 

Unclaimed property: It’s not just for individuals and companies

On Dec. 19, 2018, KMBC news in Kansas City, Mo., reported that the Kansas and Missouri unclaimed property owner lists included many schools and municipalities. In addition to the news story, reporter Matt Flener tweeted that more than 900 schools in Kansas are owed more than $143,000; more than 500 Kansas cities are owed more than $195,000; and Missouri has undetermined amounts owed to more than 600 schools and more than 1,400 cities.

 

Fraudsters hit Arkansas unclaimed property coffers

On Dec. 15, 2018, several Arkansas outlets reported that the state auditor’s office paid out at least $40,000 in fraudulent unclaimed property claims. The scammers used stolen identities to claim the funds. In response to the discovery, Auditor Andrea Lea told state officials her office had enhanced its verification process.

 

It’s not easy retrieving green

On Nov. 29, 2018, NBC Connecticut reported on challenges one of its viewers had claiming $138 in unclaimed property despite following the state’s instructions. The television station’s consumer reporter intervened and successfully helped the fund owner get her money.

 

Fame, fortune and uncashed checks

A popular, recurring unclaimed property news story highlights celebrities who appear on state unclaimed property lists. One of the latest examples of this appeared in the Nashville Tennessean on Nov. 21, 2018. The newspaper discovered that Tennessee’s unclaimed property list included two checks totaling $179 owed to musician Keith Urban, a $100 manufacturers rebate owed to singer Trisha Yearwood, and $150 in telecommunications payments waiting to be claimed by hockey player Pekke Renna.

Tags:  Arkansas  fraud  Kansas  Missouri  municipalities 

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States Score a Victory in Savings Bond Dispute

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 7, 2017

On Aug. 8, 2017, U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Elaine Kaplan issued a ruling in support of Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner’s claim that the U.S. Treasury should turn over to the state approximately $150 million in unredeemed U.S. savings bonds. 

 

Kansas argued that the treasury should work with the states to identify and locate bond owners with last-known addresses in each respective state so they could reunite those citizens with the proceeds from their matured, unredeemed bonds. 

 

Among other things, the U.S. Treasury claimed its savings bond regulations do not permit transfer of ownership under the Unclaimed Property Act, and that because Kansas lacked possession of the bond certificates, its claims were invalid. The court disagreed, concluding that the U.S. government’s arguments “lack merit.” The ruling did not, however, grant the state permission to redeem the unclaimed bonds. 

 

“We wholeheartedly agree that the states are best equipped to reunite citizens with missing or unclaimed property,” LaTurner said in a statement. “The Kansas Treasurer’s Office is looking forward to returning the money in question to Kansans at the appropriate time. Kansas is leading the effort with many other states to hold the U.S. Treasury accountable. Not only is this a victory for the bond owners in Kansas but for bond owners across the country.”

 

Several other states have taken similar actions against the U.S. Treasury over their citizens’ portion of an estimated $19 billion to $23 billion in unredeemed bonds. 

 

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis called Kaplan’s ruling, “a victory for Kansas and for Florida.” He wrote in his monthly newsletter that the ruling allows Florida to move forward with its efforts to reunite residents with proceeds from unredeemed bonds because the decision “addressed several of the same arguments that we have made.” The state estimates Florida citizens are owed approximately $1 billion for unredeemed bonds. 

 

Mississippi filed suit against the U.S. Treasury in 2016, seeking approximately $155 million. Judge Kaplan stayed that case while considering the Kansas case. 

 

In addition to legal action against the federal government, several states have passed legislation requiring unredeemed U.S. savings bonds to be escheated as unclaimed property. In 2015 and 2016 alone, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Wisconsin passed such bills into law. 

Tags:  Florida  Kansas  Mississippi  savings bonds  unclaimed property 

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