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State unclaimed property returns up in fiscal 2015

Charleston, W.Va.  – State Treasurer John Perdue’s office returned over $9 million in unclaimed property for fiscal year 2015, a $2 million increase from the previous year’s totals.

Treasurer Perdue said the uptick in claims filed came from an Unclaimed Property Division initiative that used a subscription database to obtain newer addresses for property owners. Much of the property the office is holding in custody is reported with outdated addresses, which accounts for much of the problem in returning the lost assets to rightful owners.

“I want to congratulate Unclaimed Property Deputy Treasurer Carolyn Atkinson for her continuously innovative approaches,” the Treasurer said. “We have further plans to improve upon this strategy.”

This past fiscal year, staff sent out letters using the updated database. This year promises the same practice but with automation playing the key role.

“We’re looking to do this on a much larger scale,” Atkinson said. “We’re going to make it a much more automated process. As soon as reports are processed, the names will be researched and letters will be sent out – with the updated addresses – in a batch process.”

While unclaimed property is reported year-round, the bulk of the reporting period occurs in late October and November. Various businesses and entities are required to report assets held on behalf of individuals or businesses. These may include items such as a utility deposit someone left behind or an abandoned bank safe deposit box. Those assets are typically reported with an owner’s name and last known contact information, which is often no longer valid.

“We’re thrilled with the increase in claims and hope to improve upon it through this automation process,” Atkinson said. “We’re very optimistic. Boosting our claim numbers is always a goal of Treasurer Perdue’s.”

 Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has been lost, misplaced or unintentionally separated from its rightful owners. Such assets are required to be transferred from the entity which last held possession of them to the State Treasury, which attempts to reunite rightful owners with their assets. Real estate plays no part in unclaimed property.

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